Cologne - VfL Wolfsburg's Kevin De Bruyne has become only the fifth foreign player to be named Footballer of the Year by Germany's football writers.
Fifth foreign winner
The 24-year-old Belgian winger took a landslide majority in a poll conducted by Kicker magazine, earning 367 votes ahead of second-placed Arjen Robben with 94 and Manuel Neuer in third with 67.
"To be voted the best player in a different country is saying something," De Bruyne told Kicker after becoming just the fifth player to achieve the feat after Robben (2010), Grafite (2009), Franck Ribery (2008) and Ailton (2004). "This is a great recognition of my season." It crowns a sensational year for the Belgian, who set a new record for the number of assists in a single campaign with 21 goals coming from his creativity, in addition to the ten he bagged himself
Wolfsburg also won the DFB Cup, thanks in no small way to De Bruyne, although he did not want to forget former compatriot and team-mate Junior Malanda who tragically lost his life in a car accident in January. "He was like a little brother to me and it's still tough," De Bruyne said. "Of course I always think about him."
Hecking completes Wolfsburg double
"We dedicated the DFB Cup to Junior and my trophies as Player of the Year are also for him." De Bruyne was also named the Bundesliga's Player of the Year by his fellow professionals in June and is now looking forward to his third full campaign in Germany's top flight. "After two and a half years here, I can safely say I really fit in," he added.
De Bruyne helped the Wolves qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2009 by finishing runners-up behind Bayern Munich while further credit for that achievement also goes to coach Dieter Hecking, who took the gong of Coach of the Year with 203 votes ahead of Augsburg's Markus Weinzierl (191) and Borussia Monchengladbach's Lucien Favre (169). A total of 814 votes were cast.