Wellington Phoenix captain Ulises Davila has been named the joint winner of the Johnny Warren medal as the A-League's most outstanding player of the 2020/21 season.
Davila shares the honour with Sydney FC midfielder Milos Ninkovic, becoming the fourth Phoenix player to claim the prize, alongside Roy Krishna, Nathan Burns, and Shane Smeltz.
Playing his second season with the Kiwi club, the 30-year-old Mexican scored seven goals and tallied eight assists across 23 matches - the only A-League player to reach both of those marks this season.
The votes were cast after each game (on a 3-2-1 basis) by four experts - a former professional player, a technical expert, the match officials from that game, and a senior member of the football media.
The win is a fitting farewell for Davila, who leaves the Phoenix to reportedly join rivals Macarthur FC on a lucrative multi-year deal.
"It's a great honour to win the medal," says Davila. "My teammates are a big part [of this award] and the staff at the Phoenix."
Davila says the unique challenges posed by relocating to Australia and competing in the ever-changing COVID-19 climate made the win that much sweeter.
The Phoenix eventually fell agonisingly short of securing a spot in the playoffs.
"It was a tough year with many [challenges]. We had to move from Wellington to Wollongong, but in the end, we tried to do our best.
"It was a very good challenge for me, for the team and all the young players and we enjoyed the season more [as it went along], then we started to play good football."
Wellington Phoenix General Manager David Dome says Davila's award is richly deserved.
"Ulises did a fantastic job for us this year – and the season before as well – so he deserves recognition for his play on the field,” says Dome.
"Ulises was able to thrive within coach [Ufuk] Talay's system, which catered to his strengths and allowed him to show his scoring and passing creativity, despite being the most fouled player in the A-League and a constant target by the opposition."