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Arsenal striker Julie Fleeting has been voted the Players' Player of the Year for the 2004-05 season. The Scottish striker scored 12 goals to help her side win the Premier League for the fourth time in five years and she is the fifth Arsenal player in successive years to win the award, following three-times winner Jayne Ludlow and then Gunners striker Marieanne Spacey.
"It's a huge honour for me to be collecting the award, especially when you see the quality of players on show," Julie told Women's Soccer Scene at the awards. "I think I've been very fortunate and the team and players I've been playing alongside have put me in a good position here - so many quality players who could have been up here instead of me."
Since Julie joined Arsenal back in January 2004, Arsenal have been unbeaten in every league game and she has only lost one domestic match - the F.A.Women's Cup semi final to Everton. However that, and the UEFA Women's Cup semi final defeat to Djurgardens, have left Julie determined to do even better. "It's a great thing that I haven't lost a league game but the two Cup defeats we had left us sore and it's the kind of feeling we don't want to have again," she says. "I think we were very focused that we had to win every game in the league, because of the quality of the teams that are always at our tails and competing for the league all the time, and when you look at that kind of competition in the league it's excellent and you really have to strive to do well in every game.
"I think we're more experienced now (in Europe) and know what it's like to play at that level. Hopefully it's going to stand us in good stead going into next season. We know the success that we head and we want to feel that again but at the same time, we don't want to feel the way we did after the semi finals so hopefully that's going to help us and we might go one further next year."
Whilst Arsenal remain at the top of the game domestically, Scotland are steadily climbing the world rankings and are preparing for a World Cup qualifying campaign under new coach Anna Signeul. "We've got a new coach so there is going to be changes and at the moment we're just trying to adapt to her methods and the way she wants to play," says Julie. "So we'll take it one step at a time and hopefully at some time we can compete at that kind of level. We have got a young team and hopefully we will grow together."
Ominously for the rest of the National Division, there remains the prospect of Julie playing alongside Kelly Smith next season after injury kept them apart this time around. It is a prospect that Julie is savouring: "I knew what a quality player she was, having been in America at the same time as Kelly. Unfortunately I didn't get to play alongside her as much as I hoped, but the couple of times I was on the pitch with her you see that everything she does, she does well. Hopefully she'll be back for Arsenal next season and I will get the opportunity to play a lot longer with her."
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