Former Brentford captain Kevin O’Connor received the prestigious Sir Tom Finney Award at the 2017 EFL Awards on Sunday.A one-club man, O’Connor, who is now Brentford B Head Coach, is in his third decade at Griffin Park after progressing through the Bees’ youth system. He signed professional terms in 1999 and went on to make 501 first-team appearances in 16 years, and is now fourth on the club’s all-time appearance list.
The Sir Tom Finney Award is presented to a player who has had an exceptional career in the EFL and epitomises the man after which this award is named. Sir Tom’s talent, loyalty and commitment marked him out as a truly wonderful player and a model professional.
This special award gives the EFL the opportunity to recognise players who, like Sir Tom before them, have set standards for others to aspire to and reached the end of a truly outstanding playing career – of which Kevin certainly fits the bill.
After being honoured on stage at the ceremony, O'Connor explained that it was an honour to be associated with one of the greats of the game.
🎥 - “I’m really proud - it’s a massive honour.”@BrentfordFC’s Kevin O’Connor reflects on receiving the Sir Tom Finney Award.#EFLAwardspic.twitter.com/lEifAs8Jfk— EFL (@EFL) April 9, 2017
In recent years, former England international strikers Kevin Phillips and Kevin Davies have won the Sir Tom Finney Award, which was renamed in 2014 to permanently honour the Preston North End and England legend.
Brentford chairman Cliff Crown explained why there is no one more fitting to receive the 2017 award than O'Connor.
He said: “Kevin has always performed to the best of his ability and shown great leadership throughout his time at Brentford.
“There are very few players that can say they have played for a club more than 500 times for 15 years.”
O’Connor retired in 2015 after helping Brentford win promotion to the Championship the previous season. His final touch of a ball in the professional game was the winning penalty in a League Cup shoot-out win against Dagenham and Redbridge in August 2014.
His final manager at Brentford, Mark Warburton, had nothing but praise for his former captain.
“Kevin was a pleasure to work with. His honesty, integrity and commitment to the cause was always there. He was a very talented footballer and he had a thirst for knowledge.
“He will go on to be an outstanding coach. Kevin is a true one-club man, he loves Brentford and the fans love his commitment and devotion to the cause.”
The EFL Awards took place Sunday 9th April at the London Hilton on Park Lane when winners were crowned for achievements on and off the pitch, including awards for the best player in each division of the Sky Bet English Football League.