CRAIG Gordon has expressed his pride at being named Player of the Year by the Scottish Football Writers’ Association for the second time in his career after making a remarkable return to top form at club and international level.
The Celtic goalkeeper has become only the sixth player in the 51-year history of Scottish football’s longest-established individual honour to win the prestigious award for a second time.
Gordon, who first collected it in 2006 while a Hearts player, joins John Greig (1966 and 1976), Sandy Jardine (1975 and 1986), Brian Laudrup (1995 and 1997), Henrik Larsson (1999 and 2001) and Barry Ferguson (2000 and 2003) in the roll-call of double winners.
The 32-year-old, who will be formally honoured at the SFWA’s annual awards dinner in Glasgow on Sunday, edged out his Celtic team-mate Stefan Johansen – the PFA Scotland Player of the Year – in the poll of the country’s football journalists.
Having been sidelined for almost three years by a serious knee injury which almost ended his playing career, Gordon has enjoyed a stunning renaissance since signing for Celtic on a free transfer last summer.
Since replacing Fraser Forster following the England goalkeeper’s £10 million move to Southampton in August, the 32-year-old has made 51 appearances for the Scottish champions and kept 27 clean sheets.
Gordon has been a member of a Celtic defence which has conceded just 17 goals in retaining the Scottish Premiership title, while they won the League Cup without conceding a goal. His performances also earned him a return to the Scotland squad where he is now firmly back in contention for the number one position.
“Getting this award is unbelievable really,” said Gordon. “Coming back into football, not knowing if I would even play one or two games, and then ending up playing 50 games, winning two trophies and now to top it off with the Player of the Year award – it’s beyond anything I could ever have imagined coming back. It’s incredible.
“You look at that list of players who have won it twice previously and they were fantastic for years. To join them is just unbelievable.
“I didn’t think it was possible to come back, especially as a goalkeeper, and win the award twice. It’s one of, if not the, biggest achievements of my career.
“There are quite a lot of individual elements in being a goalkeeper. The training’s different, and your job is different to anyone else on the pitch. So for me to get back into a team and play well enough to win trophies and awards is something that I had thought had probably passed me by.
“My first thing was just to get back playing football again. I never thought it would lead here. It’s been an incredibly journey. Not one I would like to do again, as I’d like to stay where I am now, but it’s been great to get back to this level.
“It was special enough when I won the award the first time, having coming through the youth ranks at Hearts, having worked hard to become a professional in the first place. To then go away, play just one game in three years when I was injured, then come back from that and do it all over again makes it more special for me.”