Brentford midfield player Sam Saunders aiming to surprise a few people in The Sky Bet Championship
Sam Saunders said being named Brentford FC ‘Hottie of the Year’ was probably the biggest achievement of his career.
Sam picked up the prize, voted for by the Club’s female supporters, at the Player of the Year Ball last Sunday, May 4.
He has been at the Club for five years without winning the award and admitted he had taken some stick from his team mates.
But, speaking to Bees Player last week, he said it was something the players considered as a bit of fun and was great to have everyone associated with Brentford smiling.
The award capped off Sam’s season.
He was part of a Brentford squad that won promotion from Sky Bet League One and will be playing in the second tier next season.
“It was probably my biggest achievement as a footballer,” said Sam, speaking about his award, with a smile.
“It is good to have a laugh with the fans and banter with the players.
“Every year I have had stick for not winning it.
“It is a fun award and we have had fun.
“I have finally got my hands on the trophy and I haven’t let it go.
“It was a fantastic evening of celebration, the fans were there in force and everyone was in a good mood.
“I have been at the Club five years, we have come so close to promotion, not quite got there and had disappointments, it is nice to give everyone something to cheer about.
“You walk around and you see the smiles on everyone’s faces.
“It is a great place to be.
“We get a chance in The Championship and we can’t wait to get back playing.”
Sam has been out with a knee problem since mid-January but almost made a comeback for the game against Preston North End on Good Friday.
He explained his thigh tightened in the warm-up and he could not be involved on that day and a decision was made to ensure he was ready for pre-season as The Bees clinched promotion that day, a moment, Sam said, that would live in his memory for ever.
“We needed to get over the line and I was hoping I could come on against Preston for the last 15 minutes and create something,” said Sam.
“In the warm-up, I had a tight thigh.
“My knee is fine, I am ready to go.
“With promotion secured there was no need to push.
“It was decided I would do my rehab properly and come back fresh in pre-season.
“My knee feels great, there is no problem.
“I am looking forward to doing something over the summer and coming back to pre-season flying.”
Sam said he likes the way Brentford Manager Mark Warburton likes to play.
Sam played a key role when Mark Warburton acted as Interim First Team Coach under Nicky Forster in 2011.
He was named Sky Bet League One Player of the Month for December 2013 for his performances after Mark Warburton replaced Uwe Rösler as Brentford Manager.
“Mark gives me freedom to play,” said Sam.
“He trusts me as a player, that is important.
“He trusts my judgement.
“He players an attacking, expansive football and I like that.
“It has worked well both teams he has worked with the First Team, I hope that will continue next year.”
After the final game of the 2013/14 season, Sam collected a medal to mark Brentford’s promotion.
“The medals are few and far between,” he said.
“It is nice to have more on the mantelpiece.
“Promotion was most important and to move the stature of the Club on.”
Brentford will kick off their Sky Bet Championship season on August 9.
Sam said he believed The Bees could surprise a few established Championship sides.
“It will mean everything to me to play in The Championship,” he said.
“I have played all the way up the pyramid – Kent League, Ryman League, Conference, League Two, League One – and at every level, if anything, I have found it easier.
“I am looking forward to seeing what it is like in The Championship.
“It is something I would never have believed I would have the opportunity.
“I won’t take it for granted and I will try to grab it with both hands.
“This team can surprise a few people.
“The main objective will be to stay up, first and foremost, if we can do that quickly we can set a new agenda.
“We have a very strong squad; we got 94 points this year and are disappointed because we dropped a few along the way.
“We have a young team that will improve and older pros that never rest.
“We will have one or two additions.
“We have a squad with an unbelievable team spirit and that will carry us far.
A full end-of-season interview with Sam Saunders is available here for Bees Player subscribers.