Liverpool and Egyptian Mohamed Salah has been named BBC African Footballer of the Year for 2017.
Salah, 25, beat off competition from Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Guinean Naby Keita, Sadio Mane of Senegal and Nigeria’s Victor Moses.
“I am very happy to win this award,” the former Chelsea player told BBC Sport.
“It’s always a special feeling when you win something. I feel like I had a great year, so I’m very happy.”
Salah, who began the year by reaching the final of the Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt and later helped steer his country to their first World Cup finals since 1990, scored five of their seven final qualifying stage goals to send them to Russia.
He has scored 20 goals in all competitions, putting him on course to break the club’s seasonal scoring record.
“I want to be the best Egyptian ever so I work hard,” added Salah, who is the third player from Egypt to win the award and first since 2008.
“I always follow my own way and I want everyone in Egypt to follow my way.”
The former Roma player is the first Egyptian to claim success since the legendary Mohamed Aboutrika in 2008 and first Liverpool player since El Hadji Diouf in 2002.
“I would like to thank my Liverpool team-mates and I also had a good season with Roma so I have to thank my team-mates there and my team-mates in the national team,” said Salah.
He scored 15 goals and made 11 others in Italy as he helped Roma finish second in Serie A, their best league placing in seven years.
“Since I came here, I wanted to work hard and show everyone my football. I wanted to come back to the Premier League since I left, so I am very happy.”
“It’s well-deserved,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who handed the trophy to the player at the club’s Melwood training academy.
“I am a really lucky person. I had the opportunity to work with a few outstanding players and I am happy that it is now with Mo.
“The good thing is that he is still young, there is a lot of space for improvement, a lot of potential still that we can work on, but that’s how it should be. It’s a big pleasure, to be honest, to work with him.”
Salah has added his name to a list of legends including Jay-Jay Okocha (Nigeria), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) and Michael Essien (Ghana) who have won the gong.