Sports journalists have voted Bayern Munich's homegrown vice-captain and midfield mastermind Bastian Schweinsteiger as the best player of the past season. He beat teammates Franck Ribery and Thomas Müller.
Bastian Schweinsteiger won 92 votes from German sports journalists out of 527 available ballots, just edging out his creative partners on either flank at Bayern Munich for much of the previous season. Franck Ribery came in second with 87 votes while Thomas Müller secured 85.
Schweinsteiger, who celebrates his 29th birthday on Wednesday, serves as a defensive playmaker for both club and country in midfield. The Bayern youth academy product and one-club player said that he had not been expecting to win the award.
"It really does surprise me a bit, for there were times [during the past season] when reports about me were rather critical," Schweinsteiger said, also saying that singling out individuals from Bayern's treble-winning campaign was unwise. "This, too, is a title for the whole team."
The result might have come as a surprise even to the football magazine "Kicker" that orchestrates the vote by sports journalists across Germany. Schweinsteiger's average rating assigned by Kicker for his performances during the past Bundesliga season, while strong, fell short of several of his Bayern teammates, including four fellow midfielders.
Franck Ribery, meanwhile, was afforded the best average rating of anybody in the Bundesliga.
Heynckes and Martina Müller also honored
The coach of the year award courted rather less controversy - and was anything but close. Former Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes secured 383 votes from sports writers, ahead of Freiburg's Christian Streich on 77 votes. So comprehensive was the Heynckes landslide that just 19 votes sufficed to win Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp a podium position in third place.
Germany's woman footballer of the year also hailed from a treble-winning team. Wolfsburg's Martina Müller secured the most votes, ahead of German international striker Celia Okoyino da Mbabi, calling her win "a huge surprise." The 33-year-old striker, who has spent eight years with Wolfsburg, also has more than 100 German caps to her name. Having retired from the international game, however, Müller will not be competing in Sunday's women's European Championship final against Norway, when Silvia Neid's German team seek a sixth consecutive continental crown.
msh/tj (dpa, SID)