The Professional Footballers' Association held its 41st annual awards gala on Sunday in order to honor the best players across the English game over the past year. The yearly gathering of stars has become a terrific tradition over the past four decades.
Although the main focus is always on the men's Player of the Year award, which Tottenham's Gareth Bale captured last year for the second time in three years before he headed for Real Madrid, there are other honorees deserving of the spotlight, as well.
With that in mind, let's check out a complete list of winners from the 2014 edition of the award show. It's followed by a closer look at the magnificent season put together by Liverpool superstar Luis Suarez, who was dominant throughout the Premier League campaign.
|Men's Player of the Year||Luis Suarez||Liverpool|
|Men's Young Player of the Year||Eden Hazard||Chelsea|
|Women's Player of the Year||Lucy Bronze||Liverpool|
|Women's Young Player of the Year||Martha Harris||Liverpool|
While all of the award winners are worthy of the PFA spotlight, there's no doubt Suarez was the best player in English football this season. His performance was nothing short of awe-inspiring at times while helping Liverpool challenge for the league title.
Who was the men's Player of the Year?
Suarez broke the 30-goal barrier to lead the Premier League despite missing the early portion of the campaign while finishing a ban that carried over from last season. He also reached double-digit assists to showcase the improvement in his all-around game.
Though it wasn't a surprise to see the Uruguayan international put elite form on display for stretches in the past, the fact he was able to maintain it throughout the season was what allowed him to capture the coveted individual award. He was a nightmare for opposing back lines every week.
Squawka Football notes he became the first Liverpool player during the Premier League era to find the net at least 30 times:
Luis Suarez is the first Liverpool player in the Premier League era to break the 30-goal mark. Unstoppable. pic.twitter.com/UfdATyjHRU— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 20, 2014
The attacking success allowed him to overcome an award shortlist that also included Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Eden Hazard (Chelsea) and Adam Lallana (Southampton) as well as Liverpool teammates Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge.
Suarez's best season to date was also the difference between the Reds being fringe contenders and leading the title chase in the final weeks. He certainly received help from the likes of Gerrard and Sturridge, among others, but his play was very often the difference.
Martin Lipton of the Daily Mirror passed along comments from the Liverpool star, who admitted their dream season has even been a surprise to those at Anfield:
Winning the title this season would be something that no one would believe. The truth is that we are surprised ourselves at how well we're playing.
We have good players, yes. But if you look at the complete squad, we don't have the players to be up there.
Suarez is right in the respect that other clubs around the league have more star power. But none of them had a player perform on the same level as Suarez throughout the season, and in a campaign where the title race was left up for grabs, one player can make the difference.
Now that he's picked up the award, the focus for Suarez and Liverpool shifts back to the pitch, where they will look to finish strong to win the Premier League.
All of the award winners deserve a round of praise, but Suarez's greatness was unmatched.