Middlesbrough defender George Friend has won the PFA Player in the Community Award at The Football League Awards 2016.Friend was named as the winner 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.
Friend beat off competition from Carlisle United’s Danny Grainger and Doncaster Rovers’ Andy Butler to claim the PFA Player in the Community Award.
An invaluable and integral part of the work of the Middlesbrough FC Foundation, Friend has made a real difference to the community on Teesside. He is an ambassador for the Foundation’s social inclusion projects and consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty, often attending community events on his own accord.
Empathetic to Teesside's economic struggles, the 28-year-old was also the driving force behind the 'Spirit of Teesside' charity calendar which raised money for the Foundation to help them to deliver a new project.
For this award clubs were asked to nominate one player who has played the most significant part in supporting their club’s community programme during the 2015 calendar year. Judges looked to recognise someone whose involvement has gone above and beyond that which would normally be expected of a professional player.
“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 presented on the night included the Johnstone’s Paint Community Club of the Year, the Nickelodeon Family Club of the Year and Capital One Supporter of the Year. Players from across The Football League were also recognised for their on pitch performances, with the Sky Bet Player of the Year, Football League Young Player of the Year, Mitre Goal of the Year and Football Manager Team of the Year awards decided, alongside the prestigious Sir Tom Finney Award and Contribution to League Football award.
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.