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Last Updated: Monday, 19 May, 2003, 05:53 GMT 06:53 UK
And the winner is...
By Tom Fordyce

Who has triumphed in our unofficial end-of-season awards?

Howard Wilkinson bows his head
Wilko: Had a stinker
You can keep your PFA team-of-the-years and your Football Writers' nominations. Those awards barely begin to cover the complexities of the past season.

No, ours are the ones that count, the ones that the players themselves care about. Alternatively, they could just be rattled up over the course of a few hours simply for your amusement.

Whatever. Let the lights dim and the gong-giving begin....


Best goal

A vintage collection to chose from this year - Alan Shearer's volley against Everton, Ruud van Nistelrooy's run through half the Fulham defence, Robbie Keane's outside-of-the-boot against Leeds - but Thierry Henry's mazy dribble against Spurs tops the lot.

Even Thierry looked excited.

Worst goal

Poor old Michael Proctor. With Sunderland desperate for three points against Charlton in February, the youngster scored not one own goal but two - and the first was as comical to the neutral as it was heart-breaking for the boy himself.

As one, the 34,000 Sunderland fans gasped in disbelief and horror - something they became very good at by the end of the season.

Best goal celebration

It might not have been enough to keep West Ham in the Premiership, but Paolo di Canio's winner against Chelsea at the start of May produced the very best from the insane Italian.

Tearing off the shirt? Check. Shaking off his ecstatic team-mates? Check. Adrenaline-fuelled sprint to the fans? Check. And then, as the icing on the cake, a dramatic fall to the ground as his legs collapsed underneath the sheer weight of all that joy.

Worst goal celebration

Paul Peschisolido celebrates
Peschisolido celebrates victory at Bramall Lane

You can't blame Paul Peschisolido for being pleased when he scored the goal that put Sheffield United 3-2 up in their Division One play-off against Nottingham Forest.

What was unforgivable was the way he reacted - running the length of the pitch screaming, "Oh my Gawd! Oh my Gawd! OH MY GAWD!" as if he was Rachel from Friends rather than a professional footballer.

Best save

David James' tip-over for England against Turkey, throwing himself back across goal and almost re-writing Newton's notions of motion in the process, was a thing of wonder.

Even better was David Seaman's one-handed claw-back in the FA Cup semi-final from the afore-mentioned Peschisolido's point-blank header. Who says he's too old for the top flight?

Best goalkeeping clanger

Has there ever been a better year for the goalkeeping gaffe?

Aston Villa's Peter Enckelman got us underway when he allowed Olof Mellberg's throw-in to slip under his foot to gift the game to arch-rivals Birmingham. Then Big Dave Seaman followed that up by letting a corner fly straight over his head against Macedonia.

In an ordinary season, either would be good enough to claim the prize. But how could anything beat Jerzy Dudek's fumble of Diego Forlan's shot at Anfield in December, when the ball appeared to pass clean through his chest?

Top gaffer

You'd nominate David Moyes, but imagine having those terrifying bug-eyes staring at you when he came up to collect the award.

No, the nod instead goes to Micky Adams, not only for getting Leicester back in the Premiership on the tightest of budgets, but also for the way he increasingly looks like Kevin Keegan before the England job turned the Keegster grey.

Worst gaffer

Howard Wilkinson marched into the Stadium of Light convinced he could turn Sunderland around.

27 games and 15 defeats later, he was on his way out, convictions in pieces and Sunderland heading towards relegation at even greater pace than before.

Best overseas signing

Which of us didn't think that Bolton's courtship of Jay-Jay Okocha would end in tears?

Shame on us cynics. The chirpy Nigerian loved it in Lancashire - and showed his gratitude by scoring the goals which kept Bolton in the Prem.

Most over-rated foreigner

Back in August, El Hadji Diouf was one of the most exciting striking talents in world football, a man who had enjoyed an excellent World Cup and looked set for sackfuls of goals in England after bagging a brace in his second league game.

Nine months on, he's been converted into a winger capable only of running down blind alleys and refusing to pass to better-placed team-mates. 10m? Hmm...

Most optimistic player

Joey Gudjonsson
Gudjonsson walks off after his red card against Villa

Joey Gudjonsson, bless him, is not one to let dull reality get in the way of his dreams.

After scoring from 35 yards on his Aston Villa debut, he began to believe that he could score from distance pretty much any time he fancied - and shot after long-range shot sailing into the stands, match after match, failed to diminish that belief even a fraction.

Most hapless player

Ah, Igor Biscan.

Or should that be: agghhh, Igor Biscan?

As a footballer Igor gives the impression that he is relatively new to the game, maybe having taken it up a few years ago when a couple of pals suggested a lunchtime kickabout.

He combines that an expression so smudge-eyed, so hang-dog, that you expect him to burst into tears at any moment.

Maybe he should share a flat with Joey G. Anything, anything to lift the mood.

Best haircut

Chris Marsden might not be the obvious choice. But think about it - he has the potential to go for a Charltonesque comb-over, yet he has resisted. For seven years.

Hats off indeed.

Worst haircut

Joe Cole's red question-mark on the blond background was sheer madness. But at least he didn't try to captain England while wearing an Alice Band, Mr Beckham.






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