Aussies Abroad Make Their Mark (and Harry)

Two of Australia’s key overseas players have fought off stiff international competition to win awards in two of the world’s most prestigious leagues.

Two of Australia-s key overseas players have fought off stiff international competition to win awards in two of the world-s most prestigious leagues.

The awards, reflecting their huge contribution to the game over the past year, are sure to herald a new era for Australian soccer.

Mark Viduka, the ace Celtic striker, was voted Scottish player of the year by his peers on Sunday night, just ahead of fellow Socceroo Craig Moore, from Rangers. Viduka has scored a phenomenal 27 goals this season, a figure which on its own was sure to guarantee him the coveted accolade.

Meanwhile Harry Kewell, who helped Leeds maintain a poll position in the Premiere League for the majority of the season, scooped a well-deserved treble in the English awards: he was voted PFA Young Player of the Year ahead of Robbie Keane (Coventry City) and Steven Gerrard (Liverpool); he came third behind Roy Keane (Manchester United) and Kevin Phillips(Sunderland) in the overall best player category; and he was included, along with three of his Leeds team mates, in the overall fantasy league team for the 1999/2000 season.

Australian national coach Frank Farina told Soccer Australia: “It-s absolutely sensational for Australian soccer. Harry (Kewell) totally deserves his award. He-s most probably done the best that any Australian soccer player ever has in Europe. And Mark-s achievement is no less praise-worthy. As the national coach, I feel so proud for both of them.”

Fresh from scoring a wonder goal in United's 3-0 romp over Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday afternoon at Hillsborough, Harry made the dash down to the London award ceremony alongside Ian Harte and Gary Kelly, who with keeper Nigel Martyn, were all voted in the Premiership team of the year.

Harry-s award is just reward for a magnificent season that could still end in qualification for the Champions League.

“I can-t believe it,” he said following the ceremony.

“It-s been a fantastic season for me and the club. These awards will stay with me for ever.”

Viduka, who nine months ago promised himself he would stay focused and forget about the pressures of being under scrutiny from the fanatical Scottish fans and media, said: “I-m on top of the world.

“It just goes to show that if you are prepared to work hard, then the rewards will come.

“I-m so proud of my family, for Australian Soccer and for myself. To be judged the best by the players, well words can-t describe it. Most of the world looks on Australia as a third-world football country, but people are now taking notice of us.”