x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Pro League awards: Grafite edges out top scorer Gyan for International Player of the Year

Al Ahli's Brazilian forward gets the nod ahead of Al Ain's 31-goal striker, while Omar Abdulrahman scoops Emirati and Fans' Player of the Year. The PLC also confirmed the league's name will change as of next season to the Arabian Gulf League.

Al Ahli forward Grafite, left, winner of the International Player of the Year Award, while Al Ain playmaker Omar Abdulrahman scooped two gongs: Emirati Player of the Year and Fans' Player of the Year. Silvia Razgova / The National
Al Ahli forward Grafite, left, winner of the International Player of the Year Award, while Al Ain playmaker Omar Abdulrahman scooped two gongs: Emirati Player of the Year and Fans' Player of the Year. Silvia Razgova / The National
ABU DHABI // Omar Abdulrahman and Grafite bagged the top prizes in the Professional League Committee's inaugural awards ceremony at the Abu Dhabi Exhibitions Centre.
Abdulrahman, the Al Ain midfielder, duly won the Emirati Player-of-the-Year award over Ali Mabkhout, the Al Jazira forward, and Ismail Al Hammadi, the Al Ahli midfielder.
Grafite, the Brazilian forward of Al Ahli, edged out Asamoah Gyan, the Ghanaian striker of Al Ain, and Boris Kabi, the Ivorian forward of Ajman, for the top international player honour.
"To win this award when there were a lot of players like Gyan, Ricardo Oliveira [Al Jazira], Boris Kabi to name a few," Grafite said.
"This award is also very important for my club. I want to thank them for their support and faith they had in me, and my teammates, without whom I wouldn't have achieved this award.
"This title will also motivate me more to play even better in the next season to win some titles for the club."
Grafite, 34, won both the Player-of the Year and the top-scorer awards in the German Bundesliga in 2009 when he played for Wolfsburg. He also won the player-of-the-year award in the Brazilian league in 2003.
"I had an amazing season in Germany in 2009 and in Brazil in 2003. So this award is very important for me and my family because it shows my work," he said.
"When I moved to the Pro League last year, many people told me that I was like most players in the mid 30s going to enjoy my life in Dubai. This award will answer them that I am here to play good football and help my club win titles.
"I think we had a good season. We were runner-up in the league and earned a ticket to the 2014 Asian Champion League. We are in the President's Cup final [tomorrow] against Al Shaab and hopefully we can win it."
Abdulrahman also bagged a second award on the night, as the Fans' Player of the Year.
"I am happy to win two awards," the 21 year old said. "I didn't expect two awards and it is the first time I am winning something like this. It will give me more motivation to for the next season."
Grafite paid tribute to the Al Ain playmaker, saying he had a great future ahead.
"He has got very big quality and he can play abroad if he really pursues on it," the Brazilian said.
"There are quite a lot of Emirati players with high technical skills and quality. And for me, Majed Naser, my teammate and goalkeeper, is one of them.
Mahdi Ali, the national team coach, endorsed Abdulrahman as the most deserving for the award after a fantastic season.
"There are many good Emirati players but there is only one award and Abdulrahman deserved it because he was quite outstanding this season," he said.
"For me, if I have to give an award, I would have given it to Khamis Ismail [the Jazira midfielder]. Nobody notices his work. But I know how much he has done for the national team as well as his club."
Ali Kasheif, of Jazira, won the top-goalkeeper award over Naser and Khalid Saif Al Sinani, the Al Dhafra keeper who is on loan from Jazira.
Gyan won Top Scorer of the Year with a record 31 goals, but the Ghana captain was not present last night, as he had to rejoin his national team.
"I would have loved to be at the ceremony, but unfortunately, I had to be with the national team," Gyan said in a recorded interview.
"I am honoured to have an award, but I wouldn't have achieved it without the support of my teammates."
Abdulwahab Abdulqadir, who led Ajman to their first trophy in nearly 30 years in winning the Etisalat Cup, was named top coach.
"For me, this award means a lot to me because there are so many coaches with big reputations in the league," he said.
The winners
Emirati Player of the Year
Omar Abdulrahman (Al Ain)

International Player of the Year
Grafite (Al Ahli)

Coach of the Year
Abdulwahab Abdulqadir
(Ajman)

Young Player of the Year
Yousef Ahmed (Al Ain)

Goalkeeper of the Year
Ali Kasheif (Al Jazira)

Top Scorer of the Year
Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain)

Pro League Club of the Year
Al Wahda

Fantasy Football Manager of the Year
Ali Abdullah

Fans' Player of the Year
Omar Abdulrahman (Al Ain)
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PLC to change league name to Arabian Gulf League for 2013/14 season
The Pro League will be known as the Arabian Gulf League next season, it was announced at the Professional League Committee awards ceremony.
"The name change has been debated for a long time and we finally decided to change it for next season. It is a fitting and significant name for our league," said Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithy, chairman of the PLC.
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