Howard Kendall’s wife Lily says her late husband would have been “so proud” to see David Unsworth and his Everton Under-23s bestowed with the end of season award named in his honour for the second time in three years.
Unsworth and his double-winning side picked up the Howard Kendall Award at this year’s Dixies, having also claimed the prize when they lifted the inaugural Premier League 2 crown in 2017.
Given each year in tribute to Everton’s most successful ever manager, the Howard Kendall Award acknowledges an ‘outstanding achievement’ at the football club.
And Lily, who visited USM Finch Farm to meet winner Unsworth and his staff, revealed the high regard in which her husband held the current Under-23s boss.
Kendall gave Unsworth, a graduate of Everton’s youth system, his first team debut in an April 1992 game at Tottenham Hotspur during the second of his three stints in charge of the Blues.
“Howard really thought a lot of David and he’d be so proud to see him and his team winning his award again,” said Lily.
“They have had a fantastic season and I know Howard would have been delighted to see a team wearing the colours of Everton picking up two trophies, especially the league and the cup!
“He’d be delighted and I know he’d be jealous of me today because he’d have loved to have been here to hand the award over and celebrate with David and the boys.”
Unsworth, who went on to play 350 games for Everton over two spells, returned to the Club, initially as Under-21s assistant manager, in 2013.
He was promoted to Under-21s manager the following year following Alan Stubbs’ departure for Hibernian and has aided the development of players including Tom Davies, Jonjoe Kenny and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
An FA Cup winner in 1995, his successes as both a player and coach also saw Unsworth named the Everton Giant for 2019.
And the former defender admits he owes a lot to Kendall for having faith in him as a raw 18-year-old with big aspirations of carving out a career in the game.
“I absolutely loved him and I’ll never forget him giving me my debut,” said Unsworth. “I remember him tapping me on the shoulder on the coach on the way down to Tottenham to say, ‘Number 14 today, lad’. I was on the bench but I managed to get on and it was an amazing day.
“To win this award named after him twice in three years is an amazing achievement for the staff and players and we’re very proud that Lily could come to the training ground to meet us.
“We miss the gaffer every day but getting awards like this just brings back all those fantastic, amazing memories of him.
“I loved playing for Howard. He was a special manager and an absolute legend, in my opinion, and in every Evertonian's opinion.”
Watch a video of Lily Kendall’s visit to USM Finch Farm above or by clicking here. Users of the official Everton app can also navigate to the ‘Video’ section.