Sky Bet Football League to re-name award in honour of Sir Tom Finney
The Football League is to re-name an annual award in honour of Preston North End and England legend Sir Tom Finney.
Last Updated: 16/03/14 6:50am
The first recipient of the Sir Tom Finney Award will be AFC Bournemouth striker Steve Fletcher, who retired at the end of last season, aged 40, after a professional career spanning 24 years and more than 800 senior appearances.
Fletcher will receive the Sir Tom Finney Award at Sunday's Football League Awards 2014 to be held at at The Brewery in London.
Football League Chief Executive Shaun Harvey said: "Sir Tom Finney's talent, loyalty and commitment marked him out as a truly exceptional player and a model professional. We are delighted to name this award in his honour and present it to those players that, like Sir Tom, set standards that others aspire to."
The award will be presented to Fletcher by Preston North End boss, Simon Grayson.
After joining the Cherries as a teenager from Hartlepool United in 1992, Fletcher went on to play 728 times for the South Coast club in a career that included 121 goals and three promotions. He finished his playing days on a high, winning promotion to the Sky Bet Championship in 2013 and continues to serve the club as head of recruitment.
Harvey continued: "Steve Fletcher has been an outstanding ambassador for AFC Bournemouth and football in The Football League. For more than 20 years he's been adored by Bournemouth fans and feared by opposition defences in equal measure. He is a very worthy first recipient of the Sir Tom Finney Award."
After being told he was to be presented with the award, Fletcher said: "I'm very honoured and proud to receive the Sir Tom Finney Award. Never in my wildest dreams, as a young lad kicking a ball around the streets of Hartlepool, could I ever have imagined this would happen to me. I am truly humbled."
The Football League Awards honour achievements, both on and off the pitch, across The League's 72 clubs, rewarding players, clubs and fans in 13 categories, which include the Family Club of the Year, Johnstone's Paint Community Club of the Year, Capital One Supporter of the Year and the Tokio Marine Unsung Hero award.
On the pitch, the League Football Education Apprentice of the Year will be chosen for each division, as will the Sky Bet Player of the Year, while the Young Player of the Year and the Mitre Goal of the Year will also be announced.
Leicester City midfielder Danny Drinkwater, Burnley striker Danny Ings and Leeds United captain Ross McCormack are in contention for the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Year award - voted for by managers of the clubs in each division.
Rochdale's Scott Hogan, Chesterfield's Gary Roberts and Sam Winnall of Scunthorpe United are the three players in the running for the Sky Bet League 2 Player of the Year award,
Adam Forshaw of Brentford, Wolverhampton Wanderers' Kevin McDonald and Swindon Town's Alex Pritchard make up the three-man shortlist for the Sky Bet League 1 Player of the Year award.
Pritchard is also on the shortlist for the Young Player of the Year, alongside Leicester City's Liam Moore and Derby County's Will Hughes.