Former Bristol Rovers and Southampton striker Rickie Lambert is to be honoured with the prestigious Sir Tom Finney Award at the 2018 EFL Awards on Sunday.
Playing for nine clubs – seven of which were in the EFL - and scoring more than 215 goals in over 600 games, Lambert played and scored in every division in English professional football; winning three promotions and personal accolades in a hugely successful 18-year career.
Those three promotions took Lambert from League Two to the Premier League within six years, including the honour of being named the Football League Championship Player of the Year in 2011/12, the year Southampton confirmed their promotion to the top flight, after scoring 27 goals to claim the golden boot.
The 36-year old also lifted the EFL Trophy in 2010 for Southampton after a memorable 4-1 victory at Wembley Stadium. His success in the competition came just three years after defeat at the same stage with Bristol Rovers, although Lambert was on hand to open the scoring for the Saints to ensure there was no repeat of that day.
The Sir Tom Finney Award is presented to a player who has had an outstanding career and contributed an exceptional amount to the EFL and football in general.
Renamed in honour of the Preston and England legend following his death in 2014, Lambert’s talent, commitment and model professionalism throughout his career, both at domestic and international level, has been exemplary to those watching.
After being informed of his success, Lambert said: “The best years that I had were in the EFL. The best memories I’ve had were in the EFL. Those stories and those memories made me the player I was in the Premier League.
“I learnt my trade at Bristol Rovers as a striker. The first season was just about getting goals, the second season went a little bit better and then the third season was when I knew I was the best striker in League One by some distance, and knew I was the best player in League One at that time.”
Lambert, whilst still at the Pirates, would write himself in Rovers folklore after scoring the only goal of the Southern Area Final against local rivals, Bristol City.
Despite defeat in the final against Doncaster Rovers that year, Lambert would return to the same stage three years later with Southampton, this time lifting the EFL Trophy against Carlisle at the National Stadium.
“I can remember winning the EFL Trophy clear as day. It was a great day. There were over 73,000 people at Wembley, it was a great sight and that gave us the success to go on the next season and win promotion and get to where we got to.
“I’m still coming accustomed to what I’ve achieved in my career to be honest. I was fighting for a contract when I was 18/19 and I just couldn’t get one. So to be sat here now 15 years later having played 600 games for the clubs that I’ve played for, I’m so proud.”
Lambert returned to his boyhood club Liverpool in 2014 before spells at West Bromwich Albion and Cardiff City. However, a bad injury suffered in October 2016 took its toll and the forward announced his retirement from playing shortly after the end of the 2016/17 campaign.
The EFL Awards take place on Sunday 15th April at the London Hilton on Park Lane, when winners from across all three divisions will be recognised for their achievements both on and off the pitch, including the announcement of the Sky Bet Player of the Season for the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two.