PARIS (AFP) –
Lille’s Eden Hazard was crowned Ligue 1′s Players’ Player of the Year for the second consecutive season on Monday, while Montpellier’s Rene Girard was named Coach of the Year.
The awards, voted for by players and coaches in France’s top two divisions, were due to be handed out at the annual UNFP (National Union of Professional Footballers) awards gala later on Monday evening.
Hazard, 21, saw off competition from Paris Saint-Germain’s Nene and Montpellier pair Younes Belhanda and Olivier Giroud to take home the prize for the best player in France.
“It’s an award voted for by the players, so it’s nice to know that you’re appreciated,” said Hazard.
“It’s my best season in terms of statistics, but last year wasn’t bad either, with the double. I would have preferred to leave on an even better collective note, but we’ve qualified for the Champions League. Personally, I’ve given the best of myself.”
As well as winning the award last season, the Belgian international was previously crowned Young Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010.
This season, the young player award went to Belhanda.
Lille have failed to defend their league and French Cup titles this season but Hazard has nonetheless enjoyed his most complete campaign to date, scoring 17 goals and providing 15 assists in Ligue 1.
He has declared his intention to leave Lille this summer and is reportedly poised to join either Manchester City or Manchester United.
Giroud and Nene are currently neck-and-neck in the scoring charts with 21 goals each, while Belhanda has been the creative inspiration behind Montpellier’s unexpected title challenge.
Girard, 58, was rewarded for taking Montpellier to within a point of the first Ligue 1 title in their history.
Following Sunday’s dramatic 1-0 defeat of Lille, Montpellier require a draw from their final game of the season at relegated Auxerre on Sunday to claim the title ahead of PSG.
Girard took over at Montpellier in 2009, having previously spent several years working as a coach of France’s international youth teams.
“Your peers give you this and that’s really nice, but it’s not what’s going to make me win at Auxerre on Sunday,” said Girard.
“For the time being, we’ve won nothing except qualifying for the Champions League. We have to do the necessary at Auxerre.”
Lyon’s Hugo Lloris was named Goalkeeper of the Year and therefore featured in the Team of the Year, which included four players from champions-elect Montpellier.
Ligue 1 Team of the Year (4-2-3-1)
Hugo Lloris (Lyon); Mathieu Debuchy (Lille), Nicolas N’Koulou (Marseille), Vitorino Hilton (Montpellier), Henri Bedimo (Montpellier); Rio Mavuba (Lille), Etienne Capoue (Toulouse); Eden Hazard (Lille), Younes Belhanda (Montpellier), Nene (Paris Saint-Germain); Olivier Giroud (Montpellier)