Kevin De Bruyne credited Pep Guardiola after becoming the first Manchester City man to be named the Professional Footballers' Association’s player of the year.
The Belgium playmaker’s award breaks a two-year run of Liverpool winners, with Virgil Van Dijk and Mohamed Salah having claimed the prize over the previous two seasons.
City trailed the Reds by an eventual 18 points in the 2019/20 Premier League term but De Bruyne, who registered 13 goals and a record-equalling 20 assists, was voted the campaign’s top performer by his peers and he was quick to thank his manager for handing him full creative licence.
"Most of the time he just lets me be me," the 29-year-old said of Guardiola. "We speak often about the team but in a lot of senses he knows when he gives the orders of what the team has to do that I will listen.
"But then on the other side he gives me a lot of freedom; I don’t know why, that’s just the way it goes between us.
"He knows in one way I will always put the team first and then obviously if I can help myself I’m going to do that.
"But he knows that I want the team to win, and if the team wins I will gain from it.
"So I think in that sense he feels fine and he trusts me completely.
"This is a big honour, to be voted by your colleagues, competitors from other teams who you always play against on the field. That they vote for you for best player; it’s amazing.
"It’s maybe strange that I’m the first one at City, seeing all the good players who played there before and who are still playing. But it’s nice to represent the club."
Last term’s winner Van Dijk was shortlisted again for his exploits in Liverpool’s title-winning 2019/20 campaign, with his Reds team-mates Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold also in the running.
De Bruyne pipped all of those to the accolade, however, and also fought off the challenge of his City colleague Raheem Sterling, who does not even make the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.
Football writer's POTY Henderson leads a five-strong Liverpool contingent in the team, David Silva joining De Bruyne as the only other City player as Sterling and Reds' top scorer Salah were both left out.
Burnley's Nick Pope got the players’ vote between the posts after a robust return of 15 clean sheets for Sean Dyche’s side while Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu’s fine form in helping the Foxes to a fifth-place finish saw him win a place in the XI’s back four.
Jamie Vardy scooped the Premier League golden boot with 23 goals, and the Leicester forward was duly voted into a three-man forward line.
Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang completes the striking department having registered 22 league goals for the Gunners. Southampton’s Danny Ings can count himself unfortunate to have missed out, having matched Aubameyang’s league haul in an impressive season.
Premier League team of the year: Nick Pope (Burnley), Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil Van Dijk (both Liverpool), Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool), David Silva (Manchester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal), Sadio Mane (Liverpool).
Beth England scooped the women’s player of the year award, having helped Chelsea do the Women’s Super League and League Cup double.
Striker England scored 21 goals in all competitions for the Blues, and prevented Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema claiming the award twice in a row.
England also edged out her Chelsea team-mates Sophie Ingle, Guro Reiten and Ji So-yun, and Arsenal’s Kim Little.
"It’s a huge honour to be voted for by your fellow peers, so thank you to everyone who voted for me," England said.
"The team cohesion as a group, we fought for everything we had. The girls were tremendous, thankfully we had a great year and hopefully it continues."
Liverpool’s accomplished full-back Alexander-Arnold scooped the men’s young player of the year award, seeing off Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood, Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount, and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka.
Alexander-Arnold played a part in 12 clean sheets in Liverpool’s league triumph, and also laid on 13 assists and four goals, continuing to develop his already deadly all-court game.
The 21-year-old warned Liverpool’s rivals that German boss Klopp’s side were nowhere near satisfied with their successes to date.
"That first taste of success and being able to lift trophies, you never get over that, and the disappointments that come along the way too feed that hunger as well," said Alexander-Arnold.
"So it’s probably a perfect blend of wanting to feel the success and not wanting to feel that disappointment that we’ve felt in the past.
"And I think as a team and individually the mentality is to keep going and to keep striving forward, because we’re not done yet."
Manchester City’s Lauren Hemp collected the women’s young player prize, beating team-mates Chloe Kelly, Georgia Stanway and Ellie Roebuck, with Chelsea’s Erin Cuthbert and Manchester United’s Lauren James also shortlisted.
Former Swindon striker Eoin Doyle was named in the League Two team of the Year for the 26 goals he scored to help them win the division.
Doyle, the only Irish player featured across the five selections named, has since joined Bolton Wanderers.
Women's Super League team of the year: Ann-Katrin Berger, Maren Mjelde (both Chelsea), Leah Williamson (Arsenal), Millie Bright, Magdalena Eriksson (both Chelsea), Caroline Weir (Man City), Kim Little (Arsenal), Ji So-yun, Beth England (both Chelsea), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal), Chloe Kelly (Man City).
Championship team of the year: Brice Samba (Nottingham Forest), Luke Ayling, Ben White, Liam Cooper (all Leeds), Joe Bryan (Fulham), Eberechi Eze (QPR), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Romaine Sawyers (West Brom), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham), Ollie Watkins, Said Benrahma (both Brentford).
League One team of the year: Marko Marosi, Fankaty Dabo (both Coventry), Michael Ihiekwe (Rotherham), Robert Dickie (Oxford), Joe Jacobsen (Wycombe), Cameron Brannagan (Oxford), Liam Walsh (Coventry), Matt Crooks (Rotherham), Armand Gnanduillet (Blackpool), Ivan Toney (Peterborough), Matt Godden (Coventry).
League Two team of the year: Alex Palmer (Plymouth), Perry Ng (Crewe), Ben Tozer (Cheltenham), Charlie Goode (Northampton), Randell Williams (Exeter), Antoni Sarcevic, Danny Mayor (both Plymouth), Nicky Adams (Northampton), Charlie Kirk (Crewe), Eoin Doyle, Jerry Yates (both Swindon).