It was a night of celebration for three apprentice players at The Football League Awards 2014.
Derby County’s Mason Bennett was named the LFE Apprentice of the Year for the Championship while Milton Keynes Dons’ defender Brendan Galloway and Hartlepool United midfielder Bradley Walker took the plaudits in League One and League Two.
The trio gained recognition for their efforts on and off the pitch at the gala bash held at The Brewery, London, on Sunday evening in front of over 600 guests from clubs, sponsors and the football industry.
Bennett who joined Chesterfield on loan last week, said: “It’s a great achievement for me personally and for my family. I’d like to thank the academy and the manager for giving me the opportunity.
“It’s been very hard because I haven’t had much time to concentrate on my LFE work but there’s a great education officer at Derby who has helped me get through it.”
England youth international Galloway who became the youngest first-team player in MK Dons history in 2011 as a 15-year-old revealed his pride after a long personal journey
“I came over to Milton Keynes from Zimbabwe when I was six and started playing in the Under-11s at the club,” Galloway said.
“This season has been great in the first-team, especially scoring in the FA Cup. I’m still trying to complete my college course and give back to the community while playing.”
Meanwhile Walker who has earned rave reviews for his performances in Sky Bet League 2 this term added: “It’s brilliant. It was very good to be nominated and I didn’t think I would win it but I have and I’m very happy.
“It’s going well. I’d like to thank the gaffer and the club for giving me the opportunity to play. My family is the main thing for me, they have been very important while I’ve been playing football and my friends and family are very supportive.”
Shaun Harvey, chief executive of The Football League, offered his own glowing appraisal of the evening which showcased excellence across the league’s 72 member clubs.
“The Football League Awards 2014 has given us the opportunity to reward outstanding achievement, both on and off the pitch, by Football League clubs,” Harvey said.
“Every one of the winners is a worthy recipient of their award and all the other nominees have helped set an exceptional standard this year.
“It has been a tremendous celebration of life in The Football League.”