Bayern′s Alaba named Austrian Footballer of the Year | News | DW | 18.12.2012
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Bayern's Alaba named Austrian Footballer of the Year

Bayern Munich's David Alaba has been named Austrian Footballer of the Year for a second time running. He is the first person to win the award in back-to-back years in over a decade.

Alaba won the award for the second time, the Austrian Press Agency (APA) first announced Tuesday. The 20-year-old enjoyed a breakout 2011-12 season with German giants Bayern Munich, and has played an important role for the team in the 2012 calendar year.

Seven of the ten coaches in the Austrian Bundesliga voted for Alaba, who won 41 out of a possible 50 points to pick up the award, said the APA.

"It is a great honor for me," Alaba told the APA. "I want to thank all of the coaches who voted for me, also my family, my friends, and God, who made it all possible."

The combination midfielder/left back finished 25 points ahead of his national team colleague, Christian Fuchs, who plays for German side Schalke. It is the biggest margin of victory for the award since Austria Vienna midfielder Valdimir Janocko of Slovakia won by an incredible 37 points in 2002.

Finishing third in the voting was striker Philipp Hosiner, who has enjoyed a hot start to the season for Austria Vienna, scoring an impressive 21 goals in 20 league games since July, including three hat tricks.

"There are a lot of Austrian players who put in great performances this year," said Alaba, who is the first player to win the award in consecutive years since Ivica Vastic picked up back-to-back trophies in 1998 and 1999. Along with Vastic who has won four times, Alaba joins three-time winner Herbert Prohaska and two-time winner Steffen Hoffmann as a player who has won the award multiple times.

Rapid rise

At just 20 years of age, Alaba has experienced a rapid rise in German football. He joined Bayern in the summer of 2008, and one year later was called up to the Austrian National Team.

epa03004558 Ukrainian player Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (R) vies for the ball with David Alaba (L) of Austria during the international friendly soccer match between Ukraine and Austria in Lviv, Ukraine, 15 November 2011. EPA/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

Alaba has established himself as a regular with the Austrian national team

He made his debut for the senior side against France in October 2009, before he had ever played for Bayern's first team, and he became the youngest player to ever take the field for Austria in the process.

Four months later, Alaba made his debut for the Bayern first team. After a successful loan spell at Hoffenheim in the second half of the 2010-11 season, he established himself as a key and consistent part of Bayern's often-rotating back line.

Capable in both midfield and defense, Alaba made 30 league appearances, and helped Bayern earn a spot in the Champions League Final last May. Only a suspension kept him out of the title match, which Bayern lost on penalties to Chelsea.

Alaba has again proven himself valuable to Bayern this campaign. Despite the team's improved defensive depth with the offseason addition of players like Javi Martinez and Dante, Alaba has consistently managed to work his way into Bayern's starting 11. After beginning the season injured, he has played every league game since his return to the squad on October 20.

Bayern's star winger Franck Ribery, who has been on an impressive run of form in the Bundesliga since returning from an injury of his own, recognizes the importance of Alaba to the team and himself.

"What's good for me is the return of the young Alaba," Ribery told the magazine "Kicker" last month. "It was really important that he came back, with his runs and support. It makes everything easier on the field."