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Socceroo Emerton crowned Oceania’s best player

Sydney speedster Brett Emerton has continued the Australian run of success as the latest Oceania Footballer of the Year. Emerton was announced today as the 2002 winner by 17 votes from defending champion Harry Kewell with third-placed Mark Schwarzer completing a Socceroo trifecta.

Emerton, who plays with Feyenoord in Holland, polled 63 votes from Kewell (46) and Schwarzer (39) to score his biggest total in the poll and his first major individual success.

It is a great achievement after finishing third in the previous year and another boost for Australia and Oceania,” Emerton said.

We’ve shown our potential with the recent win over England and that we have quality players who can match it with the best in the world.

With the Oceania winner going direct to the World Cup finals, I hope Australia can now qualify.”

Emerton praised the decision by Australian coach Frank Farina to look for a base in England to play internationals.

The team is full of intelligent players and it’s anybody’s guess what we can do if we get together and play regular games,” he said.

Oceania president Basil Scarsella said the result showed the depth of talent in the region, especially in Australia.

He pointed out that Emerton decided to wait until he had more senior experience before trialling in Europe.

Emerton has done very well in his career and I think the best is still to come for him in the stronger leagues of England, Italy and Spain,” Scarsella said.

I’m sure we’ll see him in those leagues, sooner rather than later.”

Emerton first appeared in the poll in 2000 when he was fifth with 21 votes while Kewell and Schwarzer have regularly received votes since 1998.

The poll this year attracted 27 player nominations, one less than the biggest figure established in 1997.

Another interesting factor was the spread of voting with other leading Oceania players gaining increased figures.

New Zealand”s Simon Elliott came fourth with his biggest total so far of 34 while team mates Ryan Nelsen and Ivan Vicelich also polled strongly. The best of the other Oceania nations was Fiji’s Esala Masi with 18.

The national coaches and senior officials of all national associations as well as selected sports journalists from around the Oceania region, are invited to vote. The Oceania Footballer of the Year Award is coordinated annually by veteran Australian based journalist Ted Simmons, in conjunction with the Oceania Football Confederation. An official presentation of the award to Emerton will be made later in the year upon his availability. – AAP

Photo: Brett Emerton

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