A delighted Shields said: “It’s a great honour for me to win this award. I’d like to thank the Football Writers’, NIFL and Danske Bank for this prize.
“This is obviously my first year at Linfield, so I’m delighted that I have been recognised in this way. But really, this is just an added bonus. I came here to win the league and that’s exactly what.
“I must give a lot of credit to David Healy, who put faith in me. He’s a top class manager, and I’m glad I’ve been able to repay him. It was incredibly tough, with Cliftonville pushing us all the way, but I think we deserved the title.”
This year’s NI Football Awards Premiership Team of the Year features four Cliftonville players.
Despite finishing behind Linfield in the race for the Gibson Cup, there was room in the team for Levi Ives, Jonathan Addis, Jamie McDonagh and Ryan Curran.
Linfield trio Chris Johns, Jimmy Callacher and Chris Shields were also voted into the team, alongside the Glentoran duo of Jay Donnelly and Conor McMenamin. Ben Kennedy of Crusaders and Lyndon Kane of Coleraine complete the all-star selection.
Premiership new boys Newry City can boast a quintet of players in the 2022 Championship Team of the Year.
Goalkeeper Steven Maguire is joined by defenders Darren King and Noel Healy, plus talented attacking midfielders James Teelan and Philip Donnelly.
Runners-up Annagh United are represented by Lee Upton, Craig Taylor and Niall Henderson. Ballinamallard United’s South African BJ Banda and Harland & Wolff Welders legend Michael McLellan make an exciting front line, with Loughgall defender Ben Murdock completing the line-up.
Premier Intermediate League champions Newington have a quarter of players in this season’s PIL Team of the Year.
Robbie McVarnock, Gary Warwick, Richard Gowdy and Kevin Bradley make this starting line-up, alongside Bangor duo Reece Neale and Lewis Harrison. Armagh City’s Conor Mullen and Marc McConnell also make the squad alongside Andrew Findlay (Portstewart), Andrew Martin (Banbridge Town) and Alex Pomeroy (Limavady United).
The teams were selected by members of the Northern Ireland Football Writers’ Association and the Lough 41 Championship managers. The NI Football Awards are jointly organised by NIFWA and NIFL.