Barkley Delight At Award
Midfielder thrilled to take top prize at Academy Awards.
Ross Barkley has spoken of his delight at picking up Everton's prestigious Keith Tamlin Award.
The midfielder, 18, was at the Blues' Academy Awards evening on Tuesday to collect the annual prize, which recognises outstanding overall contribution.
Attributes such as attitude, aptitude and excellence on the field are taken into consideration and Barkley told evertontv: "It was an honour and I feel privileged to get the award. I was very happy to receive it."
Starlet Barkley joined the growing list of Everton youth products to make a first-team breakthrough in August when he started the Club's opening game of the season against QPR.
The midfielder has since turned out a further eight times for David Moyes’ side and also made his England Under-21 debut in a 4-1 rout of Ukraine.
"I think he was the deserved winner," said Academy boss Alan Irvine, a former midfielder who made 79 outings for the Blues during a three-year spell in the 1980s. "I think anybody who goes on to play for the first team has got to be a contender because that's what it's all about. And Ross is obviously the player who's done that this year.
"Hopefully there'll be a few other contenders next year who have achieved the same but I don't feel it could have gone to anybody else this time around."
Earlier in the evening, Barkley joined fellow Academy graduates Victor Anichebe, Shane Duffy and Conor McAleny on stage to hand out pennants to players from every age group from Under-6 upwards.
"It was strange because I'm not used to being the one at the front handing out the certificates," the midfielder said. "Last year I was coming up and shaking Jack Rodwell's hand and now there are young lads coming up and shaking mine.
"It was good and it shows that if you work hard you can end up being at the front, looking around and thinking ‘that's where I used to be and this is where I am now’.”
Irvine concluded the evening by thanking all the players, coaches and parents for their hard work over the year, telling them the Academy would not be able to operate as it does without their continuing support.
"It's nice to say thank you to people, nice to give out awards and nice to recognise the hard work that's been done,” he said. “I think the evening is a really nice thing to do and it's something the Club has done for a number of years and it's got bigger and better as it's gone on. I'm not quite sure how we improve on what we did on Tuesday because it was very well done by everyone involved."