Stephen Cluxton must claim the Football of the Year award his career deserves tomorrow night, insists Kerry great Marc Ó Sé.
The long-serving Dublin goalkeeper has won seven All-Ireland titles and five All-Star awards, but has never claimed the Footballer of the Year prize.
At tomorrow night’s PwC GAA/GPA event, he is nominated alongside Dublin team-mates Jack McCaffrey and Con O’Callaghan.
Speaking on the Balls.ie All-Stars Debate Show, Ó Sé said: “For me not only footballer of the year, but one of the most influential players of all time.
“We used to have video sessions on Stephen Cluxton, we used to spend 20 minutes trying to crack this fella. What other player could you say that of, that you would spend 20 minutes on trying to stop him?
“And do you know what, there were days when we thought, we have this fella. And he’d go in at half-time and get himself right and come out and correct those mistakes and all of a sudden, it was normal service resumed.”
Cluxton was outstanding as Dublin completed the five in a row with a replay win over Kerry, his penalty save from Paul Geaney helping to keep Jim Gavin’s side afloat in the drawn game.
“Stephen Cluxton has standards, and we just take them as a given,” Ó Sé added. “His kickouts, the way they go to plan, the way he sets up the Dublin attack. The replay, there was a ball kicked out 60 yards to the Hogan Stand side to (Ciarán) Kilkenny. These are just things that we take as normal.
“When you get to an All-Ireland final, you have your standards. Then all of sudden Kerry are putting it up to you and you have to go up a notch, he went up two or three notices. He was kicking balls out, blocking balls, saves. What he brought to Dublin this year was nothing short of phenomenal.
“Different class. What he has done, at the age he is at. Every player in that Dublin team looks up to him. He’s a real leader.”
Former Kildare star Johnny Doyle says it would be a “travesty” if Cluxton retires without picking up the top individual award.
“Maybe that’s sentimental on my behalf. I would say the same looking down the roll of honour of the Footballer of the Year and not seeing Colm Cooper,” Doyle said.
“If he doesn’t win footballer of the year before he retires, it will be a travesty.
“To me, he’s the greatest of his era. He had a phenomenal year plus everything else that went with it. He’s my Footballer of the Year.”
Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham added: “What he brought to Dublin this year was absolutely phenomenal. It’s fitting in a way after winning the five in a row and having their captain who hasn’t won Footballer of the Year to win it this year.”