All Whites captain and West Ham defender Winston Reid has been named New Zealand Player of the Year at a football awards dinner on Friday.
The accolade was announced at Auckland Grammar School during the Friends of Football’s Celebration of Excellence dinner, held in conjunction with the New Zealand Football Media Association awards.
The highlight of the evening were tributes to All Whites greats Steve Sumner and Brian Turner.
Both are previous winners of the NZFMA’s Player of the Year trophy, first awarded in 1970 to coincide with the launch of the National League. The list of recipients reads like a who’s who of New Zealand football.
After a hiatus of several years, the award has been revived by the NZFMA and Reid was a clear winner, receiving around twice as many votes as runner-up Ivan Vicelich and Ryan Thomas in third. Rounding out the top six (in order) were Abby Erceg, Chris Wood and Bill Tuiloma.
Reid, who joined West Ham in 2010, enhanced his reputation in the English Premier League during the 2014-15 timeframe of this award. Speaking from London, Reid was appreciative of the recognition and hoped it would inspire others.
“Thanks everyone. I’ve always tried to do my best in the sport and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication,” said Reid. “My aim is always to give the younger generations something to look up to and strive for, so hopefully they can do even better than I have so far in my career.”
The 27-year-old’s good form saw him linked to other Premier League clubs until signing a six-year contract in March to stay at West Ham.
“There was a lot of talk around everything but at the end of the day I’m happy where I am and my family is happy living in London,” said Reid. “It’s a good club with good supporters, and I believe we will push on even further. I’ve been here five years now and loved every single moment of it and look forward to staying for another six.”
Reid said continuing to represent his country remained a priority.
“We don’t get too many opportunities to play for New Zealand but when we do, I try to do so. We haven’t had as many games in New Zealand as we’d like but we understand we have to travel around the world to get the quality of opposition we need to develop, but hopefully we get to play in New Zealand later.”