OPTA Player of the Season

Tuesday 24 May 2005

After enjoying a superb first season in the Premiership, Papa Bouba Diop scoops Fulham's Opta player of the season award for 2004/05. The Senegalese destroyer adapted effortlessly to the English game following his move from Lens in the summer, winning the first of his three Opta player of the month awards in August.

The towering anchorman proved to be quite a potent attacking force from midfield for the Whites, bagging six goals, a tally only bettered at Fulham by forwards Andy Cole and Luis Boa Morte. Indeed only Cole mustered more shots on goal than Diop's 46 attempts this season.

Diop's distribution has also been impressive throughout the season with the gargantuan star hitting more accurate passes than any other Fulham player, finding a team-mate on 845 occasions.

The African midfielder's dynamic play also made him a target for opposition challenges and 'the Wardrobe' finished the season as Fulham's most fouled player and the joint-third most fouled player in the whole division, winning 87 free-kicks. However Diop will be looking to improve his own disciplinary record next season, as he picked up two red cards and seven yellows this term, the worst record of any Fulham player.

Luis Boa Morte grabs second place in the end of year rankings thanks to his incisive attacking play and high work-rate.

The former Arsenal wideman was Fulham's second-highest scorer, bagging eight goals in the Premiership, seven of them notched with his trusty left foot. Indeed, no player scored more left-footed goals all season.

Boa Morte's creativity also produced nine goal assists, more than any other player at the Cottage while his penchant for running at opponents produced 73 successful dribbles, the sixth-best tally in the Premiership.

However, as well as providing a constant attacking threat, Boa Morte was equally adept with the physical side of the game, winning more tackles than any of his team-mates (113).

Third in the rankings is Steed Malbranque. The French schemer endured a difficult season hampered by injury. However, once fit, the former Lyon star proved to be a major influence on the Whites' positive end to the season, bagging three of his six-goal haul in the last two games of the season.

The playmaker also provided six goal assists as well as setting up a further 22 goal-scoring opportunities for team-mates.

Dutch shot-stopper Edwin van der Sar bags the fourth spot thanks to another consistent season which included three penalty saves, the most by any top tier 'keeper.

Brian McBride nabs fifth place in the rankings thanks to a superb run of form towards the end of the campaign which saw the American target-man score six goals in the last nine games of the season.