Barnsley's James Bree has been named the LFE Apprentice of the Year for League 1 at The Football League Awards 2016.Bree received the award at the gala ceremony at Manchester Central on Sunday evening in front of over 600 guests from clubs, sponsors and the football industry.
The Football League Awards 2016 was being hosted in Manchester for the first time, the same city in which The Football League was officially formed 128 years ago to the day. In its 11th year, the awards ceremony celebrates on and off pitch excellence across The League’s 72 clubs.
Bree beat off competition from Blackpool’s Bright Osayi-Samuel and Swindon Town’s Thomas Smith to claim the overall LFE Apprentice of the Year for League 1 award.
Since making his debut in the Sky Bet Championship at just 16 years old, Bree has gone on to make over 30 appearances in Barnsley’s first team. As well as his on-field performances, the 18-year-old has received special praise for his regular involvement in the club’s community activities.
On winning the award, Bree said:
“On a personal level it’s a great achievement. I’ve had a few teammates in the past that have won it and they’ve gone on to have good careers, so hopefully I can follow in their footsteps.”
The award recognises the outstanding young professionals at League 1 clubs who excel both on and off the pitch. Players registered as a first or second-year scholar, or as a first-year professional, were eligible and judges took into account the record of the player in all competitions since he became an apprentice as well as his educational attainment, disciplinary record and any other outstanding achievements.
Shaun Harvey, Chief Executive of The Football League, said: "During another action-packed Football League season it is important to acknowledge outstanding performances, both on and off the pitch.
great night at the football league awards, very happy to receive apprentice of the year for league one! thank you for all the kind messages🔴— James Bree (@Jamesbree_97) April 17, 2016
“We’re delighted to recognise this special group of nominees who have shown exceptional levels of talent, dedication and achievement. Congratulations to everyone who was nominated and particularly our winners, all of whom are deserving of their accolade.”
Other awards recognising players for their on pitch performances include the Sky Bet Players of the Year, Young Player of the Year, Mitre Goal of the Year and Football Manager Team of the Year awards, alongside the prestigious Sir Tom Finney Award. Further awards were presented for off the field achievements by players and clubs, while the prestigious Contribution to League Football award recognised an individual’s lifetime commitment to the game.
All the news, reaction and photos from the awards can be found via The Football League’s Twitter page, @football_league, while the awards ceremony was also broadcast live on The Football League’s YouTube channel.
To find out more about The Football League Awards, and for a full list of award winners, visit www.FLAwards.com or search #FLAwards on Twitter.