The Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor has defended the inclusion of Liverpool striker Luis Suarez on the six-man shortlist for the Player of the Year award.
Suarez has enjoyed his best season for the Reds since his arrival from Ajax three seasons ago, scoring 29 goals in all competitions since the arrival of Brendan Rodgers last summer.
The Uruguay international has been a constant figure of controversy during his career which has been marred by claims of racial abuse and allegations of simulation, yet Gordon Taylor has defended his inclusion.
"Sometimes controversy travels with players," Taylor told reporters.
"Sometimes it is in their very nature. Sometimes it is that very intensity that causes a problem also makes sure they win.
"Luis Suarez is helping to restore Liverpool. It is a credit to them that he seems comfortable there and no one could deny he is one of the finest players in the world."
Suarez is nominated alongside Gareth Bale, Michael Carrick, Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Robin van Persie for the award with the winner due to be announced on 28 April.
The PFA chief executive believes Suarez deserves to be judged on his footballing ability despite admitting controversy is likely to follow the player throughout his career.
"It is very difficult at times," continued Taylor. “Players are expected to be top role models and set the finest example. That goes with the trade these days.
"I don't underestimate the need for them to do all they can to be seen as a good example. But they are also human beings. It is not always possible to put old heads on relatively young shoulders.
"This is a footballing award and Suarez's footballing ability shines through. It would be naive to think controversy won't continue to travel with him. But I think his football has maintained his place."