Walsall’s Rico Henry has been named The Football League’s Young Player of the Month for September.A product of Walsall’s youth academy, Birmingham-born Henry put in some eye-catching performances during the month and was rewarded with a new contract at the start of October.
Having made 10 first-team appearances in 2014/15, the 18-year-old has been a regular this season and has played a key part in Walsall’s rise to the top of Sky Bet League 1.
BBC Sport: 'No risk' Rico is a joy for Walsall
Capable of operating at left-back, wing-back and left midfield, Henry made four League appearances in September culminating in the 1-0 away win at Scunthorpe United where he scored the only goal of the game to secure all three points for the Saddlers.
During the month, Henry also pitted himself against Premier League champions Chelsea in Round 3 of the Capital One Cup, having scored a dramatic late winner in the previous round against Sky Bet Championship leaders Brighton & Hove Albion.
Commenting on the award, Henry said: “I feel very honoured to have won this award. I joined the club at under-12s and it’s been good, I just want to keep progressing.
“My targets are to score goals and do well here. I want to get to the Championship with Walsall.”
Presenting the award to Henry, Walsall manager Dean Smith added: “Rico fully deserves the award, he has been excellent.
“He’s a pleasure to coach and a pleasure to have around the place, not just as a footballer but as a person.
“He’s a quick learner; you give him a bit of information and he takes it on board. I’ve recommended him to England under-19s because if there’s a better left-sided player in the country at 18 years of age I’d like to see them.”
Each season, Football League clubs invest more than £60m on identifying, training and educating the next generation of football talent.
There are 8,500 young players between the ages of 8 and 18 registered with League clubs, making Football League Youth Development the largest centrally co-ordinated young player programme in world football. Over 200 players aged 21 or under make their professional debuts for Football League clubs each season.
Commenting on Henry’s award, David Wetherall, Head of Youth Development at The Football League, said: “Rico Henry is an exciting young talent who has risen to prominence with an excellent Walsall team this season.
“He is an example of the club developing Academy players into first team regulars under Dean Smith and with the right application, there is no reason why Rico can’t go on to play at a higher level.”
Each month the accolade is awarded by The Football League to the young player who has made the most significant contribution and impact in first team football.