Milton Keynes Dons defender Callum Brittain has been named the EFL Young Player of the Month for September, after a breakthrough start to the campaign both domestically and internationally.
A whirlwind month for the 19-year-old has seen him become a first-team regular for his boyhood club and score his first professional goal, whilst earning a first international call-up for the England Under-20 side.
“It’s overwhelming to be honest,” Callum revealed upon receiving the award. “I’m lost for words really. The month has been crazy for me, especially with getting called up for England and now I’m focusing on just pushing on.”
His first goal for the club came at the beginning of September in a 1-1 draw with Oxford United as the Dons came from behind to seal a point.
Describing the moment, he said: “I can’t really remember much about it to be honest, it all happened so quickly. But it was an amazing feeling and a great buzz to score in front of the Cowshed.”
Unsurprisingly, Brittain has described the last four weeks as the “best month of his life” as the MK Dons Academy continues to produce talented youngsters.
Players from MK Dons have now won the EFL Young Player of the Month award more times than any other club, with Brittain following Sam Baldock, Patrick Bamford and Dele Alli to become their fourth player to collect the award since its inception.
Even after a hugely impressive September, in which MK Dons kept four clean sheets, an international call-up wasn’t at the forefront of Brittain’s mind.
Reflecting on finding out about his call up, he said: “It was actually after training. The gaffer came up to me and said congratulations, which at first left me a little baffled.
“I didn’t really know what was going on, but when I found out it was England Under-20s it felt like time just stopped for a few moments.
“I told my dad and he didn’t believe me. He said he wouldn’t believe me until he actually saw my name on the team-sheet!”
The defender certainly took the international call-up in his stride as he returned to Stadium MK with two England caps, two victories and three assists to his name.
“It’s something that I’ve always thought about and always wanted to do, but it came as a big surprise and I’ll take a lot from the experience the last couple of weeks,” he added.
Despite being with the Dons since the age of eight, it has not been the stereotypical rise through the Academy for Brittain.
He learned his trade in the Icelandic Premier Division last season, where he was sent on loan to Throttur FC for first team experience, an opportunity that he took with both hands.
“It was a really good experience for me. One of the lads here had been there previously, I spoke to him and a few others and they said it was a really good chance for me to get some game time.
“It didn’t just help me with my football, I developed a lot off the pitch as well. I was fending for myself, becoming independent and growing up.
“League One is a more physical league, but Iceland was a great experience for any lad to take, the standard is still high.”
This season, the EFL is continuing its commitment to increase opportunities for young players to progress through initiatives such as EFL Futures, a financial incentive to support EFL Clubs to improve opportunities made available to young home grown players.
With a further £250,000 made available to the initiative this summer, total funds available are now £1million per season.