Smeltz scoops A-League's top awards

WELLINGTON Phoenix’s Kiwi striker Shane Smeltz has capped a stellar Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season by being named the competition’s player of the season at the Hyundai A-League awards in Sydney on Monday night.

WELLINGTON Phoenix-s Kiwi striker Shane Smeltz has capped a stellar Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season by being named the competition-s player of the season at the Hyundai A-League awards in Sydney on Monday night.

As well as winning the Johnny Warren Medal as the competition-s top performer, as voted by Hyundai A-League players throughout the season, Smeltz also collected the Golden Boot title (12 goals) and the award for goal of the season with his stunning strike against Melbourne Victory at Wellington-s Westpac Stadium in round 13.

The 27-year-old Phoenix marksman beat Queensland Roar import Charlie Miller and Adelaide United-s Travis Dodd to win the Johnny Warren Medal - the most prestigious award for a player in the Hyundai A-League.

Smeltz, who has been part of the Phoenix set-up for two seasons, said he owed a huge debt to the club for giving him the chance to revitalise his career since joining the Wellington outfit for their inaugural Hyundai A-League season in 2007/08.

“The club gave me a chance and believed in me. That-s something I-ll always be grateful for.”

He praised the club-s owner, Terry Serepisos, and management for making his success possible.

“Terry deserves so much credit for what he has achieved with the Phoenix and for raising the profile of football in New Zealand. The management of the club has also been superb - (coach) Ricki Herbert is a great manager who showed a lot of faith in me by bringing me to Wellington, and the office guys, led by (chief executive) Tony Pignata, have worked hard to make the club a success.

“I can-t thank everyone at the Phoenix enough for what they-ve done for me and for football.”

The modest Smeltz said he was stunned to have his name called as winner of the Johnny Warren Medal.

“I already knew I was going to get the Golden Boot. To get the award for goal of the year was a big surprise but to win the Johnny Warren Medal totally blew me away. I was sitting there looking around the room - looking at guys like Craig Moore, Travis Dodd and Charlie Miller and thinking ‘I-ve got no chance-.

“So to win the Johnny Warren is probably the best moment of my career off the pitch - especially considering it came from my peers.”

Hyundai A-League 2008/09 awards night winners:

Johnny Warren Medal:

Shane Smeltz (Wellington Phoenix)

Golden Boot: Shane Smeltz (12 goals)

Goal of the season: Shane Smeltz (Phoenix v Victory, round 13)

Coach of the season: Aurelio Vidmar (Adelaide United)

Best import: Charlie Miller (Queensland Roar)

Rising star: Scott Jamieson (Adelaide United)

Goalkeeper of the season: Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United)

Referee of the season: Matthew Breeze