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Celtic hotshot Leigh Griffiths lifts Player of the Year crown

Hearts 1 - Celtic 3

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic frontman Leigh Griffiths has been crowned PFA Scotland Player of the Year for the first time. The Hoops striker collected the prize at a glittering dinner ceremony at Glasgow's Hilton Hotel.

His triumph came just a day after he struck his 39th goal of an impressive campaign as the Parkhead side effectively wrapped up their fifth straight title with a 3-1 win at Hearts, while Celtic defender Kieran Tierney took the young players' prize.

Griffiths' success is the second time in four seasons he has been recognised for his individual efforts after collecting the Scottish Football Writers' Association's top prize as well as the union's young player award following a 28-goal campaign with former club Hibernian back in 2013.

Meanwhile Celtic boss Ronny Deila claims clarity regarding his future lay behind the convincing victory over Hearts.

The Norwegian will leave at the end of the season and is virtually certain to take with him a second successive Premiership title after the win at Tyncastle which came courtesy of goals from Colin Kazim-Richards, Patrick Roberts and Leigh Griffiths.

The Hoops moved nine points ahead of second-placed Aberdeen with three games remaining but with a superior goal difference of 35.

Deila is glad the players are now able to concentrate solely on the football.

"There was so much speculation around my position and when you get negativity all around you, it affects the performances," he said. "In the end, the process around me was affecting the players and I could see it.

"At Hearts you saw a team focused on football and now the club can go forward from here and have a good foundation to have a very good next season as well."

Griffiths told potential challengers next season to "come ahead" and claimed the de facto title, Celtic's fifth in succession, was a fitting tribute to Deila.

"He has been nothing but positive. Even when things weren't going our way he was still positive and still trying to look on the bright side," he said.

"We didn't play our best but we stuck together as a team and got the result in the end. Everybody will improve next season.

"The league is going to be strong next season but we will be champions and hopefully next season make it six."

West Ham: Adrian, Antonio, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble, Kouyate, Lanzini, Sakho (Moses 78),Carroll (Emenike 87), Payet (Collins 90).

Goals: Carroll 11,Noble 45 pen,53 pen.

Watford: Gomes, Paredes, Prodl, Cathcart, Holebas, Guedioura (Anya 57), Behrami, Mario Suarez, Abdi (Deeney 76), Jurado (Berghuis 56), Amrabat.

Sent Off: Amrabat (90).

Booked: Prodl,Mario Suarez,Amrabat.

Goals: Prodl 64.

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).

Belfast Telegraph


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