Andoni Iraola was named the Third Rail’s Unsung Hero of 2016 on Friday night and his coach couldn’t think of a more deserving recipient for the award.
Iraola and Vieira were both in attendance along with David Villa and RJ Allen at the supporters’ club End of Season party at the Playwright Pub on West 35th Street to celebrate an historic season with the fans.
Speaking after Andoni was given the award which is given to the player who may not receive the same recognition as the men scoring and assisting goals, Vieira expressed his delight with Andoni’s contributions throughout the 2016 campaign.
Vieira said: “I think the award really reflects Andoni’s contribution to us this year."
“A lot of players get a lot of credit but the work he does on and off the field deserves recognition."
“There are players who work really hard for the team but never get mentioned and those kind of guys are really quite special because they sacrifice themselves for the team."
“Andoni is the perfect image of a team player – everyone loves him on and off the field. I’m really glad he won this award because he really deserves it.”
Ronald Matarrita, who was not present as he was representing (and scoring for) Costa Rica, was named the Third Rail’s Defender of the Year, while David Villa took MVP.
David told supporters: “I’ve been here from the first day and I’ve always tried to work hard every day on and off the pitch and I think the people are happy with me because they show me every day on the internet, at Yankee Stadium and on the road – that’s why this award is so special to me.
“I want to say thank you to everybody, to all my teammates, to all the staff – there’s no individuals in sport, it’s about the team – this is for everybody associated with NYCFC.”
Vieira also paid tribute to the team’s top scorer, highlighting David’s unwavering desire for success as an inspiration to the whole squad.
“What more can I say about him?” Vieira smiled.
“I think we all appreciate the goals he scores but, beyond that, when I came to this football club and I spoke to David I understood that he really loves this club and what I really like about him is that he works every day to try to win something."
“When you talk about players coming into this country – they like to have a nice time at the end of their careers and enjoy themselves but David is not the type of person to do that.
“He won everything in Europe, he won the World Cup, the Champions League but he has got this desire to compete and he really fell in love with this club.”