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Lambert named Football League Player of the Year as Poyet shares the limelight

Southampton's Rickie Lambert has taken all the plaudits after being named Football League Player of the Year at a ceremony in London. Lambert's 25 goals from 39 appearance have spearheaded the Saints' impressive surge towards promotion.

The Fazakerley-born striker said: "The last two years have been brilliant and the next one-and-a-half months are the biggest of our lives.

He added: "I have a lot of experience and I've kept learning, I feel I'm at my peak right now".

Nigel Adkins men look a great bet for promotion, three points clear at the top of the table. After just one year in the Championship, Southampton could follow in Norwich's footsteps and make the long journey from League One to the Premier League. 

Lambert has scored three hat-tricks this season and has caught the eye in a similar way to Jordan Rhodes of Huddersfield who scooped the League One award, with Swindon's Matt Ritchie getting the vote in League Two.

Outstanding achievement 

In one of the most eagerly-anticipated announcements of the evening, Brighton's Gus Poyet was selected ahead of Dougie Freedman and Lee Clark to receive the award for outstanding managerial achievement after guiding his side to the League One title.

Though Clark was recently sacked as Huddersfield manager, there was some feeling that a record of just three defeats in his last 55 league games was deserving of such an award.

Poyet, whose Brighton side now sit in fifth position in the Championship, said: "Brighton have had some difficult times in the past but things are going really well now. The players have worked so hard for me to turn things around and hopefully we can push on towards the Premier League now."

Wilfred Zaha was awarded Young Player of the Year, as Cardiff's Peter Whittingham drew special priase for his outstanding 25-yard volley against Barnsley last March which voted best goal.

Coventry City's Gael Bigirimana, was named the Championship Apprentice of the Year, with Charlton's Jordan Cousins and Crewe's Nick Powell taking the League One and Two awards respectively.

In some of the more understated awards, Burnley's Claret and You won Best Programme, as Millwall's Tamika Mkandawire and Rotherham received community awards.

By Chris Smith

To read Total Football's recent feature 'Saints march on towards promotion to the beat of Lambert's drum' click here


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