Footballer of the Year, through the years

Stanley Matthews wins the inaugural Footballer of the Year award
Blackpool winger Stanley Mathews was the inaugural winner of the Footballer of the Year award in 1948. Mathews would win the award again at the age 48 in 1963, a feat made more remarkable that his team at the time, Stoke City, were playing outside the top tier of English football, winning promotion as champions of Division Two.
Bert Trautmann is injured in the 1956 FA Cup final
Two days after Bert Trautmann became the first goalkeeper to win the award, he was playing for Manchester City in the 1956 FA Cup final. As City led Birmingham 3-1 with about 15 minutes to play, Trautmann dived at the feet of Blues' Peter Murphy, with Murphy's knee catching the keeper's neck. After treatment, Trautmann continued, pulling off several saves as Manchester City won the cup. It later emerged that he had cracked five vertebrae.
Danny Blanchflower
Midfielder Danny Blanchflower had already been named Footballer of the Year in 1958, but it is for the 1961 award that he will perhaps be better remembered. As captain of Tottenham Hotspur he led Spurs to the First Division and then a 2-0 win in the FA Cup final against Leicester. With that, Spurs became the first team in the 20th century to win the Double.
George Best
Manchester United magician George Best already had two league champions winners' medals before he was named Footballer of the year in 1968. In the same year, he scored United's second goal in the European Cup final, giving them the lead in extra-time after the game with Benfica had ended 1-1 after 90 minutes. United completed a 4-1 win to become the first English team to win the trophy, 10 years after the Munich air disaster.
Emlyn Hughes
Emlyn Hughes (pictured left holding trophy), Bobby Moore's replacement as England captain in 1974, led Liverpool to the league title two years later. With their subsequent qualification for the Europe, Hughes went one better and was crowned Footballer of the Year for his part in a league and European Cup double.
Terry McDermott (right)
In a 1979-80 season that Liverpool held off Manchester United to retain the title, midfielder Terry McDermott became the first player to win both the Footballer of the Year and the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year awards. The feat has since been emulated by 14 other men.
Neville Southall
Pictured clutching the 1984-85 First Division trophy, Everton's Neville Southall is the last goalkeeper to win the Footballer of the Year award. Before Gareth Bale's 2013 triumph, Southall was also the last Welshman to take the prize.
Dennis Bergkamp (centre)
After Terry McDermott's win in 1980, there was an 18-year gap for the next man to scoop both the FWA and PFA player of the year awards. The wait was ended by Dennis Bergkamp (centre), the Dutch striker scoring 16 league goals as Arsenal won the title in Arsene Wenger's first full season in charge, the Gunners going on to complete the Double.
Thierry Henry
In 2003, Thierry Henry was another Arsenal striker to win both awards, but, in 2004, the Frenchman went one better. With the 'Invincible' Gunners going through the season unbeaten, Henry scored 30 goals to become the first man to be named Footballer of the Year in successive seasons, adding a second PFA award for good measure.
Cristiano Ronaldo
In 2007 and 2008, Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo matched Henry's achievement of winning both the FWA and PFA player of the year awards in successive seasons. However, his first set of prizes also came with the PFA Young Player of the Year award, making the Portuguese the first man to scoop all the major titles in the same season.
Gareth Bale
By being named as Footballer of the Year on Thursday, Gareth Bale has matched Ronaldo's achievement of winning the FWA, PFA Player and PFA Young Player of the Year awards in the same season. Bale's 24 goals have helped Spurs to the quarter-finals of the Europa League and maintain a push for the Premier League's top four, with manager Andre Villas-Boas saying the club will resist any offers for the Welshman in the summer.