Sunderland starlet Amad Diallo has been awarded the EFL’s Young Player of the Month for December.
Since joining the Black Cats on a temporary basis in the summer, the Manchester United loanee has registered seven goals and two assists, but his most impressive shift came during the festive period.
The 20-year-old notched three goals in five games – including a stunning strike to wrap up the points in a 4-1 win over Wigan Athletic as the month drew to a close.
“Winning this award means a lot to me because I always try to give my best on the pitch,” he explained. “This type of recognition gives me great confidence to keep improving, but I also have to thank my team-mates as they help me a lot.”
Despite sitting on the bench for large parts of the beginning of the campaign, the Ivory Coast international has reached new heights in the second half of the season, and his performances have caught the eye of Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray.
“His performance level has been extremely high,” Mowbray reaffirmed. “He went through a purple patch scoring almost every game, but he is always a threat to the opposition.
“Defenders hang out a leg and he dances past them. He has scored a few goals from outside the box and he links well with the other strikers.”
Since breaking into the side, Diallo has seized his opportunity with both hands and having the stage showcase what he can do in front of 40,000 fans is something he doesn’t take for granted.
“This loan is what I wanted and I am trying to make the most of my time here,” he said. “I’m enjoying being part of the Club and I enjoy every game.
“It is a tough league and there are a lot of good teams. It is very physical, but the level is high and each team has players who can make the difference.
“It’s really nice to play in front of so many supporters every week. I’m sure that experience of playing at the Stadium of Light can help me in my career moving forward.”
The Black Cats occupy ninth place in the Sky Bet Championship standings and Diallo has one eye on the top six.
Diallo continued: “I hope to keep playing well and score more goals to help the team improve so that we can keep moving up the table – I think we are getting better every game and hopefully we can push for the Premier League.”
Indeed, next season, Diallo could be plying his trade in the top-flight when he returns to the North West.
Mowbray has maintained a dialogue with his parent team over the course of the campaign and the youngster has the full backing of his current boss.
“I had a long conversation with coaches at Manchester United this week who were asking about Amad,” he added. “He undoubtedly has the talent to play at the top level.
“He expects to play here and understands he is an important player in our team. Five months ago, he was just another young kid presented to the fans, doing 20 minutes here and there.
“From being on the periphery, one of a handful of young signings when I came in, he has almost earned the right to play every minute of every game over the last two months. And that is all down to his talent.
“Now I would struggle to pick a team without him in it; he is one of the first names on the team sheet. That is how he has grown.”