AUCKLAND – Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) has named Marama Vahirua, Ryan Nelsen and Shane Smeltz as winners of the OFC Player of the Year Awards for 2005-2007. The OFC Player of the Year award has been in hiatus since 2004 when Everton and Australia international player Tim Cahill won recognition.
“The decision to make these awards was taken in the interests of continuity. There has been substantial increase in the confederations activities since 2004 that this prestigious award has sadly been overlooked. OFC is now delighted to honour these players for their achievements albeit retrospectively,” OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas said.
OFC will re-establish the OFC Player of the Year Award in 2008 with the jury comprised of members of the OFC Executive Committee, Member Association Presidents and General Secretaries as well as national team coaches and technical directors from across the Oceania region invited to vote. OFC will also extend this award to women’s footballers for the first time.
“OFC is delighted to create an OFC Women’s Player of the Year Award 2008 particularly given the success of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand the exploits of women footballers at the XIII South Pacific Games in Samoa last year,” Nicholas said.
Votes will be collected between now and March 2009 with an announcement of the 2008 winners made in the middle of 2009.
OFC PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2005 – Marama VAHIRUA (Tahiti)
Tahitian-born Vahirua enjoyed two successful years with Nice where he scored 19 goals in 99 matches between 2004 and 2006 before he transferred to FC Lorient. Vahirua has previously won Ligue 1 and the Coupes de France with Nantes and performed with distinction in the UEFA Champions League. Vahirua’s performances make him a worthy winner of the OFC Player of the Year 2005 award.
OFC PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2006 – Ryan NELSEN (New Zealand)
OFC Player of the Year 2006 winner is New Zealand captain Ryan Nelsen. Nelsen earned rave reviews for his performances for Blackburn Rovers in the FA Premiership and UEFA Cup. The defender earned a three year contract after just three months with the club following his move from Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise DC United.
OFC PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2007 – Shane SMELTZ (New Zealand)
Wellington Phoenix and New Zealand international striker Shane Smeltz won the OFC Player of the Year Award 2007 for his goal scoring exploits in the Hyundai A-League. Smeltz performances for AFC Wimbledon earned the forward an international recall for New Zealand and he promptly scored both goals in a creditable 2-2 draw with Wales. Smeltz scored nine goals in his first season in the A-League and his goals helped New Zealand win the OFC Nations Cup 2008.
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