The PFA Young Player of the Year is given out each year to that season’s most impressive talent (aged 24 or under) in the Premier League.
The award can be just the beginning, with numerous past winners having gone on to have stellar, trophy-laden careers in the beautiful game. However, others have failed to realise their full potential.
Here are all 10 of the PFA Young Player of the Year winners from the 2000/01 to 2009/10 seasons ranked by their eventual success.
In his first at Newcastle United – a 20-year-old Jermaine Jenas won the PFA Young Player of the Year award, after scoring six times in 32 outings as the Magpies finished third in the top flight under Sir Bobby Robson.
While Jenas managed to carve out a nice career for himself – he won the League Cup with Spurs and made over 400 appearances before retiring – injuries prevented the Englishman from fully living up to expectations.
He never bettered his goal tally from 2002/03, or finished higher in the Premier League, and winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award was self-admittedly one of Jenas’ biggest career highlights.
Unlike Jenas, Scott Parker had been a fully fledged first-team star for some time before he won the award in 2004. Having spent the first seven years of his career at Charlton, Parker joined newly monied Chelsea in January 2004 for £10m, going on to win the PFA Young Player of the Year award at the end of that season.
Parker’s time at Chelsea was short however and the Englishman struggled to break into the starting XI, even missing out on a Premier League winners’ medal in 2005 due to a lack of appearances.
It was his time at West Ham were Parker enjoyed his best seasons, even winning the FWA Footballer of the Year in 2011 and making the PFA Team of the Year in 2012.
It was his first season at Newcastle where Bellamy won the PFA Young Player of the Year award as he helped the Magpies qualify for the Champions League.
Bellamy never quite became the regularly prolific goalscorer many expected, with his solitary season at Blackburn Rovers the only time he hit double figures, but he remained a Premier League quality forward until retirement, even shining (for brief periods) at Liverpool and Man City.
In his second full season at Aston Villa, Ashley Young won the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
At the time Young was considered one of England’s most exciting young attacking midfielders, but a move to Manchester United saw Young eventually pushed back into a more defensive role.
Young enjoyed eight and a half seasons at Manchester United, winning numerous trophies before heading to Italy and joining Inter this past January.
A Premier League winner in 2013, Young has had a more successful career than most, twice making the PFA Team of the Year. However, there is a sense that the now Inter star didn’t quite become the attacking star some expected.
The second straight Aston Villa player to win the award, James Milner was also the oldest player to win the award in the 2000s at the age of 24.
Soon after winning the award, Milner left Villa for Manchester City where he won a number of trophies including two Premier League titles.
The Englishman eventually joined Liverpool for free in 2015, where he has enjoyed an Indian summer winning a Champions League with the Reds and (soon) a Premier League title.
Cesc Fabregas won the PFA Young Player of the Season award in 2008 and was a key player for Arsenal for several years, before he left for Spain in 2011.
After a slightly disappointing spell at boyhood club Barcelona, Fabregas returned to London in 2014, but at Arsenal’s rivals Chelsea, where he went on to win a number of trophies including two Premier Leagues.
Following his move to Monaco, Fabregas left the Premier League second in the all-time assists charts, behind only Ryan Giggs, and remains one of the division’s best ever midfielders.
Arguably Liverpool’s best ever player, Steven Gerrard won the award back in 2001 and became the first player to win the Fans’ Player of the Year award in the same season.
An FA Cup, UEFA Cup, League Cup and Champions League winner, Gerrard was at the heart of Liverpool’s midfield for 17 years before retiring after a short spell at LA Galaxy.
‘Captain Fantastic’ is remembered as one of the best midfielders that Liverpool and the Premier League have ever had.
The only two-time winner of the award in the 2000s, Wayne Rooney burst onto the scene midway through the decade and set the Premier League alight.
The Englishman scored in double figures in his first 11 seasons in Manchester, winning five Premier League titles under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Rooney left Manchester United as the club’s all-time leading goal scorer and he retired from international football as England’s all time leading goal scorer.
While he didn’t quite live up to the early Cristiano Ronaldo comparisons, it’s not a bad career at all.
The 2006/07 season was where Ronaldo really announced himself to the world. The Portuguese winger entered the form of his life that season (scoring 17 times on the way to the Premier LEagye title) and has only improved as the years have gone by.
Moves to Real Madrid and Juventus have seen Ronaldo wrack up a frankly ridiculous haul of trophies (individual and team) while continuing to be the best player in any team he steps in.
13 years on from his PFA Young Player of the Year award, we’re all still waiting for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to slow down, but it hasn’t happened yet.