Football: Cantona wins approval as the Players' player: Phil Shaw on who won what at last night's PFA awards

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The Independent Online
ERIC CANTONA'S status as a joueur sans frontieres was underlined once more last night when he was named Player of the Year by his contemporaries, the members of the Professional Footballers' Association.

Suspension means that the Frenchman who turned wrist bandages and upturned collars into fashion accessories is also a player without a game at present, but Cantona's fellow professionals recognised his more acceptable contribution to the English game by voting him the union's first foreign winner in the 21-year history of the award. Peter Beardsley was close behind, with Alan Shearer third.

Gordon Taylor, the PFA's chief executive, applauded his members' wisdom in choosing Cantona. 'This award must bethe ultimate accolade for any player,' he said. 'For Cantona to win it shows the cosmopolitan nature of our game these days.'

The Blackburn striker received the most votes for any individual position in the Premiership select XI. His inclusion was at the expense of Andy Cole, although the Tyneside talisman had the consolation of ending Ryan Giggs's two-year monopoly of the award for best young player.

Cantona is not the only player in the all-star side who failed to cut it as a striker with Leeds. Gary Kelly, the 19-year- old Howard Wilkinson has converted to right-back, wins acclaim for an outstanding first season, with another unsung Irishman, Denis Irwin, at left-back. And union members seem to be telling their ex- chairman, Terry Venables, something by giving Tim Flowers the nod ahead of David Seaman.

The spine of the First Division XI comes from the leaders, Crystal Palace, although there is a useful team to be compiled from those who did not win favour: Kitson, Oakes, Pembridge, Pearce, McGinlay, Joachim, Bull and the current PFA chairman, Pat Nevin, for starters.

Dean Windass, recruited by Hull from North Ferriby, earns a place in the Second Division line-up ahead of more prolific strikers such as Stockport's Kevin Francis. Wycombe's enterprising debut season in the League is reflected in the Third Division XI, which also contains Martin Hodge, who has had even more clubs (10) than Cantona. In his 36th year Hodge is still throwing himself around goalmouths in vote-catching style.

----------------------------------------------------------------- PFA PREMIERSHIP TEAM ----------------------------------------------------------------- Flowers (Blackburn) Kelly Pallister Adams Irwin (Leeds) (Man Utd) (Arsenal) (Man Utd) Batty McAllister Ince (Blackburn) (Leeds Utd) (Man Utd) Cantona (Manchester Utd) Shearer Beardsley (Blackburn) (Newcastle)

----------------------------------------------------------------- PFA PLAYER OF THE YEAR ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Eric Cantona. . . . . .(Manchester Utd) 2 Peter Beardsley. . . . (Newcastle Utd) 3 Alan Shearer. . . . . .(Blackburn Rovers) ----------------------------------------------------------------- PFA YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Andy Cole. . . . . . . (Newcastle Utd) 2 Chris Sutton. . . . . .(Norwich City) 3 Ryan Giggs. . . . . . .(Manchester Utd) ----------------------------------------------------------------- THE OTHER PFA TEAMS ----------------------------------------------------------------- PFA FIRST DIVISION TEAM: Martyn (Crystal Palace); Charles (Derby County), Cooper (Nottingham Forest), Young (Crystal Palace), Minto (Charlton), McAteer (Bolton Wanderers), Draper (Notts County), Gemmill, Collymore (Nottingham Forest), Walsh (Portsmouth, now Manchester City), Armstrong (Crystal Palace). PFA SECOND DIVISION TEAM: Beresford (Burnley); Aspin (Port Vale), Williams (Reading), Glover (Port Vale), Kerr (Reading), Castle (Plymouth Argyle), Taylor (Port Vale), Bogie (Leyton Orient), Quinn (Reading), Preece (Stockport County), Windass (Hull City). PFA THIRD DIVISION TEAM: Hodge (Rochdale); Cousins, Evans (both Wycombe Wanderers), Reeves (Rochdale), Stanislaus (Bury), Guppy (Wycombe Wanderers), Rigby (Bury), Lennon (Crewe Alexandra), Ellis (Preston), Spink (Shrewsbury), Reeves (Carlisle United). -----------------------------------------------------------------