Erling Haaland, Sam Kerr are English footballers of the year

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) — With a massive 82% of the votes, Erling Haaland was named England’s footballer of the year on Friday in recognition of his record-breaking first season at Manchester City.

The award could be the first of a host of trophies for the Norway striker, whose goals have put City in contention for a treble of titles: The Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

Haaland's remarkable debut English season has already seen him set a new league scoring record of 35 in a single campaign.

In total, he has 51 goals in 47 games in all competitions, blasting his way through virtually every defense that has stood in his way.

“I try every single day to be the best I can be, and to be recognized like this means a lot to me,” Haaland said. “I have loved my time at City so far – my teammates are incredible, and they provide me with the chances to score goals. I want to thank all of them, because I could not have won this award without them.”

The award is voted for by the Football Writers Association in England. Previous winners have included greats such as World Cup winner Bobby Charlton, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.

Haaland's landslide win came after votes from around 800 members of the writers association.

Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard came second and third respectively.

Haaland was already tipped to be one of the best strikers in the world when he joined City from Borussia Dortmund last year and had been linked with the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United. But even given his reputation at Dortmund, he has probably exceeded expectations at City, for which he has racked up six hat tricks.

In March, he scored a record-equalling five goals in one game in the Champions League in a 7-0 rout of Leipzig. Haaland is the top scorer in this season’s Champions League with 12 so far.

The Premier League record of 34 in a single season was jointly held by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer and stood for 29 years.

Haaland could further extend his new benchmark, as top-of-the-table City has four more league games.

City manager Pep Guardiola believes 22-year-old Haaland will only get better.

“Of course this record will be broken sooner or later, maybe by him in the future,” Guardiola said this month. “He will score a lot of goals. His mentality is to score more, more. But when he scores, (he’s like) ‘I want to score in the next action.’

“I have the feeling he will score goals for his mentality. When you are anxious in both boxes you are not a good striker or defender and he is so calm.”

Chelsea striker Sam Kerr won her second successive women’s footballer of the year, becoming the first player to do so since the award was introduced in 2018.

Aston Villa’s Rachel Daly and Chelsea’s Lauren James came second and third respectively.

Kerr, from Australia, has 26 goals in 34 club appearances at Chelsea, which faces Manchester United in the Women's FA Cup final on Sunday. The team also reached the Women's Champions League semifinals, losing to Barcelona.

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James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

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