Brentford legend picks up Sir Tom Finney award at Sunday's showpiece
The winners of the 2017 EFL Awards have been revealed, with clubs, players and fans recognised for their achievements at a star-studded evening at the Hilton Park Lane in central London. Over 650 guests were in attendance as the 2017 EFL Awards celebrated the unique successes of a remarkable year across all three divisions of the EFL.
Brighton & Hove Albion’s Anthony Knockaert was awarded the hotly contested Sky Bet Championship Player of the Season. The Frenchman has been influential in the Seagulls’ promotion chase with his skill and trickery. Knockaert beat off competition from the Championship’s leading goal-scorer Chris Wood and Newcastle United’s striker Dwight Gayle who were both shortlisted.
Knockaert said: “I am very happy that I have won the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Season. I thank my team mates for this and everyone connected with Brighton. The award means a lot to me and I am happy that I have achieved an award like this in my career. I will keep on working hard for the rest of the season and keep on doing what I have been doing.”
Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp continued his club’s celebrations by picking up the Sky Bet League One Player of the Season, just 24 hours after the Blades secured their promotion to the Championship. Sharp said: “I am a very happy man. We did the hardest part yesterday winning promotion and that was our aim at the start of the season. To win the Player of the Season Award is very nice. You cannot win these types of awards without your team mates. The manager and the team have shown a lot of belief in me this season.”
It was also a fantastic evening for recently-promoted Doncaster Rovers who picked up three awards. Striker John Marquis was awarded the Sky Bet League Two Player of the Season whilst Andy Butler received the PFA Player in the Community Award and Darren Ferguson was recognised as Manager in the EFL’s Team of the Season.
Marquis said: “It has been a fantastic season and I cannot express how much I have enjoyed it. I have been playing in a team that is doing really well, winning often and providing me with lots of chances to score. We have got over the line and got promoted and we want to win the league now.”
Footballing legend Barry Fry was honoured with the Contribution to League Football Award, recognising his lifetime service to the professional game with the night’s most prestigious award. He said: “I went into management very early, I was 28 when I got my first managers job. I lasted 32 years and I, like you, are absolutely amazed that I lasted that long. I had a great time as a manager, I’ve been to Wembley four times and won every time, I’ve won Play-Off games, I’ve won leagues, I’ve won cups but to get this honour is the greatest achievement I’ve ever been awarded and thank you very much the English Football League.”
Brentford’s Kevin O’Connor was the recipient of the Sir Tom Finney Award, an accolade that is presented to a player who has had an exceptional career in the EFL and epitomises the man after which this award is named. Described as a one club man, O’Connor, who is now Brentford B Head Coach, is in his third decade at Griffin Park after progressing through the Bees’ youth system. Kevin signed professional terms in 1999 and went on to make 501 first team appearances in 16 years and is now fourth on the club’s all-time appearance list.
Kevin said: “Ever since I’ve been here, the club as a whole has looked after me. When they look after you like that you feel like you owe them, the club have been good to me and I’ve been loyal to the club at the same time - we’ve both helped each other out. All I’ve done is get paid to play football, work hard and tried to act how you should do - it seems to have worked out ok!”
Further awards were presented to supporters, community projects and emerging stars as over 650 guests celebrated another remarkable year for the EFL.
For more details, visit: www.eflawards2017.co.uk