Rooney wins PFA award

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LONDON, April 26- Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney won the Professional Footballers' Association player of the year award at a ceremony here on Sunday and then declared his readiness for the World Cup.Rooney, currently out of action with a groin injury, is widely regarded as being central to England’s chances of winning the World Cup in South Africa later this year.

"I’m good," the 24-year-old Rooney told guests at the PFA dinner, in association with Barclays Bank, at the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London.

"I’m disappointed to miss a couple of games. Hopefully I will play before the season finishes."

Asked if he’d be fit in time for South Africa, Rooney replied: "No problems for the World Cup."

Rooney dismissed suggestions England could not win the World Cup, which starts in June, without him: "We’ve got a lot of great players. If I get injured, so be it."

He added: "Watching games is very frustrating."

Rooney, asked what would constitute a successful World Cup for England, said: "Success would be to win the trophy. We prepared well and hopefully we can bring the trophy back home."

England have won the World Cup just once, in 1966 when they triumphed on home soil.

Reigning champions United trail Chelsea by one point in the English Premier League title race with two games remaining and may need a favour from arch rivals Liverpool if they are to overtake the London club.

"I’m sure Liverpool will want to beat Chelsea," Rooney said.

"They are a proud club and they are still aiming to qualify for Europe."

Asked what had made the difference to a season where he has already scored 34 goals, Rooney replied: "The manager (Sir Alex Ferguson) is playing me in a more central position up front which I’ve been asking him to do for a few years now and the service has got better.

"It’s a great feeling to win the player of the year award because it’s voted for by the players," said Rooney. "It’s something I’m really proud of and it’s a great honour.

"I remember coming here in 2005 and 2006 to win the young player of the year. I saw the players winning the main one and it’s something I’ve aimed for since."

Rooney, the first Englishman to win the award since Steven Gerrard in 2006, paid tribute to the influence Ferguson has had on his career.

"Sir Alex is a great manager who has really brought me on as a player since I joined United," he said.

Rooney topped a poll of his fellow professionals in England to ensure the senior award stayed at Old Trafford after Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo’s double in 2007 and 2008 was followed by United and Wales star Ryan Giggs’s success last year.

Cesc Fabregas, the Arsenal and Spain midfielder, was third with Chelsea striker Didier Drogda the runner-up.

Aston Villa and England midfielder James Milner won the young player of the year award.

"I’ve been moved into the middle and that suits me as it helps me influence the game a bit more," said Milner, hoping to secure a place in England manager Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad.

Former South Africa international Lucas Radebe, who played in England’s Leeds United, won the PFA special merit award for his community work in both countries.

"I’m very proud to get such a great award. Sport can change the world – football has played such a big part in lifting my community," said Radebe.

The PFA’s Premier League team of the year contains four United players with Arsenal (Fabregas and Thomas Vermaelen), Chelsea (Drogba and Branislav Ivanovic) and Aston Villa (Milner and Richard Dunne) supplying two each.

PFA Premier League team of the year:

Joe Hart (Man City/Birmingham); Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa), Patrice Evra (Man Utd); Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), James Milner (Aston Villa), Darren Fletcher (Man Utd), Antonio Valencia (Man Utd); Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Didier Drogba (Chelsea)

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