Liverpool legend Craig Johnston was honoured by Australia’s elite professional footballers when he became only the third player to receive the prestigious PFA Alex Tobin OAM Medal at the 2009 PFA Alex Tobin awards ceremony hosted with the support of LUCRF Super.
Players to honour Johnston on the night included current and former Socceroos John Aloisi, Tim Cahill, Simon Colosimo, Ante Covic, Harry Kewell, Craig Moore, Paul Okon and Mark Schwarzer. All spoke of Johnston’s inspirational example and how that not only motivated them to become professional footballers but educated them of the tough realities of the profession.
In accepting the award an emotional Johnston spoke of the commitment it takes to make it at the highest echelon of the world’s greatest game.
Footage of Craig’s comments - with thanks from SBS Television's The World Game - is included below.
Johnston was honoured for his remarkable career with Middlesbrough and Liverpool in which he overcame adversity, injury and rejection to forge a 271 game career in the English First Division between 1977 and 1988 before retiring at the remarkably young age of 27. In so doing, he won 9 major titles with the Reds, including 5 First Division Championships, 2 Football League Cups, the FA Cup and the European Cup. Most famously, he scored the winning goal in the 1986 FA Cup Final when Liverpool became only the third club in the 20th Century to win England’s League/Cup double.
The tribute produced in Craig’s honour for the evening is can be viewed below.
597 ambitious young Australian footballers have since followed in Craig’s footsteps and secured overseas contracts. Whilst none have matched his record of team success, many have gone on to set a level of on-field achievement that provided the foundation for the game to also achieve off the field.
PFA Life Member Craig Foster was also honoured on the evening following Kimon Taliadoros and Alex Tobin by being elevated to the status of PFA Champion. Craig’s commitment to his fellow football professionals throughout his on and off field career has been immense. Committed to the payers’ cause as a player throughout a time when the sport struggled in Australia, Craig went on to fulfil the Chief Executive role at the PFA during a significant period of transformation for football. In addition, Craig did not accept a wage during his time in the role.
Other acknowledgments on the evening included Life Membership for Ante Milicic, a former Johnny Warren and Joe Marston Medallist, together with PFA President Simon Colosimo and former Executive members Ross Aloisi and David Zdrilic. Karl Dodd and Daniel Mullen received the 2009 Kimon Taliadoros scholarships.
Inaugurated in 2008, the PFA Alex Tobin OAM Medal is awarded annually to a current or former player who has demonstrated 4 attributes encapsulated by Tobin, a former long serving PFA President:
Achievement as a player
Commitment to one’s fellow professionals, and
Service and dedication to the game
The initial recipients of the PFA Tobin Medal in 2008 were Joe Marston, whose successful career in the English First Division in the 1950’s with Preston North End pioneered the international career path, and the late Johnny Warren, who fought so hard and effectively for the reform of Australian football at home.
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