Three of Australia’s brightest professional footballers, Ellie Carpenter, Jamie Maclaren and Connor Metcalfe, have been revealed as the winners of the 2021 PFA Players’ Awards.
Olympique Lyonnais Féminin and Matildas right-back Ellie Carpenter – whose career began so spectacularly in the W-League – was voted by her peers as both PFA Women’s Footballer of the Year and the PFA Women’s Young Footballer of the Year.
There was double recognition for A-League champions Melbourne City, with Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren voted as the PFA Men’s Footballer of the Year for the first time and Olyroos midfielder Connor Metcalfe winning the PFA Harry Kewell Medal as the PFA Men’s Young Footballer of the Year.
The awards reflect the achievements of players whose careers were all forged on the domestic stage, with Carpenter playing five years for Western Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne City before moving to France last year.
The 2021 PFA Players’ Awards celebrate the significant contribution of the game’s established and emerging players and were voted on by the PFA membership for performances over the 2020/21 seasons.
PFA President Alex Wilkinson said: “On behalf of all of our members and the PFA Executive, I would like to congratulate Ellie, Jamie and Connor on winning their respective awards, which are considered to be the highest individual honour an Australian footballer can win.”
Carpenter becomes the first female player to have won both awards in the same season and has now won the PFA Women’s Young Footballer of the Year back-to-back. Since commencing with Olympique Lyonnais last season, the 21-year-old became a UEFA Women’s Champions League champion and Coupe de France Féminine winner, was named in the Division 1 Féminine Team of the Season and represented Australia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I’m really surprised and feeling humbled to receive both awards,” she said. “For me it goes to show that it’s not just me, it’s also the teams that I’ve been playing in as well. I’m so appreciative of my teammates and their support; credit to every girl on the Matildas and also my Lyon team here, it’s pushed me to be the best that I can be.”
In winning the PFA Men’s Footballer of the Year, Jamie Maclaren caps one of his most successful individual seasons and becomes the third player in PFA history to win both men’s awards. Maclaren won the Harry Kewell Medal in 2016 and joins Mat Ryan and Robbie Kruse as players who have received both accolades.
Maclaren broke a number of records during the 2020/21 season, becoming City’s all-time leading goal-scorer and was named captain in the PFA’s A-League Team of the Season. Maclaren also became the fastest player in Australian national league history to net 100 goals and recorded a career-best 25 goals in 23 appearances – five of which were scored in one match: an A-League regular season record.
Maclaren said: “I’m truly honoured to be named the PFA Men’s Footballer of the Year. I was grateful to even be considered, let alone be voted the winner. This sits right at the top of Individual awards and to be voted by the players, this is something I’m finding hard to put into words. After winning the A-League Championship and my third golden boot this season, it speaks volumes about the environment I have here at Melbourne City.”
After a breakthrough campaign in 2019/20, Metcalfe became a fundamental contributor to City’s maiden Premiers’ Plate and Championship in 2020/21, with his club form earning him a Socceroos debut and a call up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The 21-year-old made 24 appearances for City with a return of five goals in 2020/21, before his Australian national team debut against Chinese Taipei and first international start in the Socceroos’ 3-0 win over Nepal.
Metcalfe said: “Winning this award means so much to me because as a small kid growing up in Newcastle I used to dream of one day following in Harry’s footsteps. I would wear a Harry Kewell top everywhere, even to bed. I loved that he was a left footer just like me.
“Looking back at the previous medal winners, I feel so proud and honoured to be added to such an amazing list filled with fantastic players. I hope that by winning this award, it can be an inspiration to other young players around the country.”