Idrissa Gana Gueye says it is a privilege to be chosen by his teammates as Everton’s joint-Players’ Player of the Season.
Midfielder Gana admitted sharing the honour with close friend Lucas Digne made his prize all the more special – and backed his fellow winner to continue excelling for Everton.
Gana enjoyed a fabulous 2018-19 – a “fantastic, fantastic season,” by the judgement of Marco Silva, who viewed the Senegalese’s campaign as his best in a blue shirt.
The numbers racked up by Gana – who is set to play for his country at this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt – support manager Silva’s assertion.
Gana’s total of 143 Premier League tackles was second only to the 144 contested by Wilfried Ndidi, the Leicester City player who started five matches more than his Everton counterpart's 32.
The 29-year-old ranked sixth highest in the division for interceptions with 75.
But it was the “different dimension” – the words of midfield ally Morgan Schneiderlin – that Gana inserted into his game in the season’s closing months which really captured the imagination.
He was outstanding as Everton claimed 21 points from their final 11 matches and thrillingly surged forward to create goals for Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Gylfi Sigurdsson, against Cardiff City and Manchester United respectively.
Gana and Digne played 46 matches together for Ligue 1 club Lille before the defender’s switch to Paris Saint-Germain in 2013.
“I am very happy to be playing with Lucas again and it is wonderful to share this award with him,” Gana told evertontv.
“It is a great feeling to be recognised by your colleagues and a privilege for me to accept this. I always give my best to try to help the team win every game.
“It is nice to see the stats – but the most important thing is the team.
“Lucas has settled very well and is doing so well for Everton. He is a really strong defender and dangerous in attack.
“I am confident he will continue the same way next season.
“He is a nice guy, a dynamic guy, and a good friend. I am very happy for him.”
Digne’s share of the players’ player honour completed a personal double.
The 23-cap France international, signed from Barcelona last summer, crowned a magnificent debut Goodison Park season by being named the Club’s Player of the Year.
Digne, renowned for his offensive capabilities, nevertheless helped Everton record 14 clean sheets in his 33 Premier League starts.
He created more chances  than any other defender in Europe’s top-five leagues and delivered 280 crosses, the highest number of any Premier League player.
And Digne was on the same page as Gana when it came to his pleasure at tying the players’ player vote – the two men becoming the first joint recipients of this accolade.
“I am so happy to win this award in my first season, it is an honour for me,” said Digne, who will join up with his national team next month for a friendly clash with Bolivia and European Championship qualifying games against Turkey and Andorra.
“I played with Gana in Lille for eight years and winning together is perfect.
“He is a good teammate, always smiling and a very good guy.
“I already knew all about his quality, but he had a brilliant season and deserves to be recognised.”