FC Barcelona midfielder Aleksandr Hleb rejected the implication that he had no serious competition after being named Belarus's Player of the Year for the sixth time in seven years, saying: "I'm not the only player in Belarus."
The 27-year-old midfielder topped the poll of coaches, team captains, referees and journalists organised by national newspaper Pressball, finishing ahead of FC BATE Borisov striker Vitali Rodionov and FC Rostov midfielder Aleksandr Kulchiy. Hleb, who left Arsenal FC for Camp Nou in the summer, has been even more successful in the Player of the Year awards than former FC Dinamo Minsk forward Sergei Gotsmanov, who took the honour four times in the 1980s.
However, Hleb does not believe the regularity of his successes in the poll is a reflection of a lack of quality among Belarussian players. "I'm not the only player in Belarus," he said. "There are a lot of young and talented players in the country. We are growing up as a nation." Hleb has played nine league games and four UEFA Champions League fixtures with Barça this season. His side topped Group C and will be seeded in Friday's first knockout round draw.
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