Centre-back Dias has enjoyed a fine debut season at City following his move from Benfica last summer, becoming an integral figure in Pep Guardiola's title-winning team. He becomes the first defender to win the award since Liverpool's Steve Nicol in 1989.
BREAKING - Ruben Dias is the Footballer of the Year 2021. The @ManCity and Portugal defender beat Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne in our poll of almost 700 FWA members. More here: https://t.co/sQBPdbsAqM #FOTY21 #Dias @rubendias pic.twitter.com/Puv9UCoW4U— The FWA (@theofficialfwa) May 20, 2021
"It means something special because normally, the ones who finish the plays [score goals] are the ones getting the spotlight but me receiving this prize is a major example of our team and the way we work - the way we build our game. It reflects all the togetherness we have on the pitch, the spirit in the team and how we perform," Dias said.
"With these players, for me to be receiving this award, it shows how we play like a family."
Overall, nine City players received votes which accounted for over 50% of those cast and FWA chair Carrie Brown said: "Ruben Dias turned heads soon after his arrival in Manchester, a 23- year-old belying his age with fortitude, steel, a relentless drive for perfection and an almost superhuman ability to read and anticipate phases of play.
"This, while commendable, would not alone qualify a player to win the FWA Footballer of the Year award. One of our founding members, Charles Buchan, prescribed the award to recognise and celebrate a player who 'by precept and example' is considered to be the footballer of the year.
"Pep Guardiola improves players, shapes them but at no point, has a new signing arrived into one of Pep's already trophy-laden teams and exerted such influence.
"Dias has demanded the highest standards which have resulted in the swiftest of upturns in fortune not solely for Dias himself, but team-mates to his left, right, front and centre.
"Ruben Dias is our Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year for his leadership on and off the pitch as much as for the infectious joy he derives from executing the art of defending to perfection."
Dias, 23, started in City's Carabao Cup final win over Tottenham on April 25, and will look to feature in the club's first-ever Champions League final against Chelsea on May 29. The Portugal international has made 61 appearances for club and country so far this season.
He signed for City from Benfica for £68 million plus add-ons and quickly imposed himself at the heart of Guardiola's defence.
"He's not just a player who plays good, he's a player who makes the other guys play good too," the City manager said in February.
"It's 90 minutes talking, 90 minutes communicating, 90 minutes saying what they have to do in every single action. When that happens, [he is] undroppable."
Voted for by the FWA members since 1947, the first recipient of the award was Sir Stanley Matthews. Dias succeeds last year's winner, Liverpool's Jordan Henderson.