Wayne Rooney tonight collected the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award and immediately set his sights on emulating Bobby Moore and Sir Bobby Charlton by helping England to FIFA World Cup™ glory.
The 24-year-old topped the poll of journalists with just over 81 per cent of a record number of votes cast, finishing ahead of Chelsea forward Didier Drogba and Manchester City's Carlos Tevez to win the prestigious accolade, which has been running since 1948.
Rooney, who led Manchester United's ultimately unsuccessful challenge to Chelsea for the English Premier League title, received his award at the FWA's gala dinner at the Lancaster London Hotel this evening. "It is a privilege to be given this award by the Football Writers' Association," said Rooney, who scored 34 goals in all competitions this term. "I am very proud. If you look at the list of previous winners, they are all great players and for me to be part of that now is a great feeling."
Rooney has been struggling with a groin problem since United's Champions League quarter-final first-leg defeat to Bayern Munich on 30 March. But now he is focused on recovering full fitness and he is relishing leading England's FIFA World Cup campaign in South Africa as Fabio Capello's squad aim to emulate the 1966 success.
England line-up in Group C in South Africa alongside Algeria and Slovenia and begin their campaign against the United States in Rustenburg on 12 June. Rooney, who is regarded as integral to England's hopes this summer, added: "There's a week's break now before we meet up with England and I am looking forward to the biggest tournament in the world and I cannot wait for that first game.
"The expectation is for other people to talk about and think about," he said. "For me I am just looking to get myself right to get to the World Cup and do my best and with a bit of luck, hopefully we can be successful."
Preparations for the finals begin in earnest with friendlies against Mexico, at Wembley on 24 May, and Japan, in Graz, Austria on 30 May. Rooney added: "I am looking forward to getting there with the lads and start the training for the game against Mexico and then it will be on to the World Cup.
"We have got the players and the quality to do well and succeed at the World Cup," he concluded. "Hopefully we can stay injury-free from now on. If we can do that and all be at our best, then we definitely have the players to do well."