Leighton Baines has spoken of his pride after sweeping the board at the Everton End of Season Awards.
The defender was acclaimed Player of the Season by the Club’s supporters, who logged on to evertonfc.com to cast their votes.
He was also named Players’ Player of the Season for the second year in a row, while his stunning free-kick against Chelsea in the FA Cup was named Goal of the Season at the SE Investments sponsored event.
Modest and at times self-depreciating, Baines isn’t always comfortable in the limelight, and he admits it will take a bit of time for the scale of his achievements to register.
“I think it will sink in over the summer when I have idle time to reflect,” the defender told evertontv. “I was taken aback to be honest. It was an amazing night and I was full of pride.
“I said at the time I was a bit embarrassed, I am not sure if that is the right word but I was certainly humbled by it – it was a humbling moment and I would never have imagined it as a young kid.”
To have his efforts acknowledged by the supporters was special for the Kirkby-born Baines, particularly as many of his friends and family are Everton fans.
And he says to be voted Players’ Player for the second year in a row was just as validating.
“It is unbelievable to be recognised by the supporters,” he said. “I would never have imagined that one season the Everton fans might pick me as their Player of the Season.
“It is a proud moment for me, my family and friends – especially the ones who are Blues themselves. It shocked me a bit to be honest.”
Baines added: “I won the players’ award last year and was chuffed to bits with that. It is nice to get that nod from your teammates. It helps a lot when you are able to play the majority of the games which I have been lucky enough to do this season.
“As a player you appreciate that. People don’t often like to hear footballers whinge about being tired but it does happen, it is human nature, it does take its toll, so your fellow players have an appreciation of that and obviously performances get taken into account as well.”
Of his Goal of the Season award, Baines said he felt his free-kick at Tottenham earlier in the season was actually a cleaner strike, yet he fully understands the drama of his FA Cup goal at Stamford Bridge and why it was picked.
He said: “The free kick at Tottenham was slightly better I think but I definitely appreciate the timing with the Chelsea one made it extra special and it carried a few more memories for the people who saw it. There was a certain drama to it and that is probably why it was picked.
“The key was getting it up and down, but then you have got a 6ft 7ins fella’ stood in the goal waiting to save it. I remember thinking at the time ‘as soon as the ref blows his whistle I am going to hit it’ as it might just buy a few split seconds. In the end he did not even go for it.”