Sunderland AFC’s Josh Maja has been awarded the EFL Young Player of the Month Award for August after scoring in four of the Black Cat’s opening five games.
Sunderland finished the month unbeaten and firmly in the early-season Play-Off picture, with the Wearside Club beginning life in Sky Bet League One positively under the stewardship of new Manager Jack Ross.
This season marks the 10th year of an award that aims to highlight and celebrate the outstanding work EFL Clubs do in developing the next generation of young players.
New for this season, all contenders for the Award have to be a Club Developed player, which is defined as a player who has been registered with the relevant Club for a minimum of 12 months prior to the end of his U19 season.
At just 19-years of age, Maja has shown maturity beyond his years to lead the line for Sunderland. Six games in total for the Club in August, Maja only failed to score in two of those, one of which was a late substitute appearance in the Carabao Cup.
From an opening day goal against Charlton Athletic, to breaking the deadlock against Luton Town at Kenilworth Road, Maja has settled into his role as Sunderland’s goal scoring threat with ease. He was also on target in impressive victories against Scunthorpe United and Gillingham.
Upon receiving the Award, Maja said: “I feel blessed, obviously I am grateful for the award.
“I think it is reward for the hard work I have put in, and the goals I have scored in the games I have played. It was great to contribute and help put some points on the board, so to receive the award feels great.
“The Club have shown faith in me and given me the opportunity to play. Coming up through Sunderland’s Academy has been nice because you have people that care about you. I think the manager has come in and continued that mentality.”
On the introduction of the new rule stating that EFL Clubs must name at least one Club Developed player on their teamsheet, Maja added: “There is a lot of young talent out there and if you don’t get given the opportunity you’ll never know if you’re ready – I think it is a very good rule to have.”
Not to get carried away, but Maja has now placed his name amongst the likes of Dele Alli, Wilfried Zaha and James Maddison as previous winners of the prestigious Award, highlighting the potential talent within the EFL.