Since 2006 the Football League have been dishing out a whole host of awards to lower league heroes.
The top prize is the Championship Player of the Year and here we’re going to take a look at the twelve previous winners and analyse how their career has played out to date.
2006 Winner – Phil Jagielka
Before he reverted to centre-back, Jagielka used play in midfield for Sheffield United.
His instinctive timing for a tackle and an impressive range of passing made him a key cog in the Blades’ successful promotion charge.
He even chipped in with eight goals the year he won the award, most of them memorable long-range worldies.
Now in his 11th season with Everton and 40 England caps knocking about his house somewhere, Jags should feel very proud of his career.
2007 Winner – Jason Koumas
Jason Koumas had a relaxed and comfortable style that was pleasing on the eye.
For two consecutive seasons he was probably the best creative talent in the Championship and was rightfully awarded with the top gong in 2007.
The Welshman was one of those players who stood out in the second tier of English football but struggled to be truly effective in the Premier League.
He retired in 2015 after a two-year spell with Tranmere Rovers.
2008 Winner – Kevin Phillips
Most associate Kevin Phillips with Sunderland but his stint West Brom should not be overlooked.
In 2007/08 ‘Super Kev’ scored 24 goals for the Baggies, firing them to promotion, and passing 200 career goals in the process.
A natural goalscorer who probably deserved more caps for England at his peak.
Hung up his boots in 2014 after playing a bit-part in Leicester’s promotion to the top flight.
2009 Winner – Sylvan Ebanks-Blake
His nine goals from the opening 13 league games of the 2008/09 season saw him earn a call-up for England U21s.
Sadly that one appearance remains his only involvement in international football.
At 32-years-old, he’s playing for Telford United in the National League North.
Probably not how he saw his career panning out.
2010 Winner – Kevin Nolan
Everyone’s favourite chicken impersonator was at Newcastle when he won the award.
It occurred midway through a very fine career as a goalscoring midfielder.
Sam Allardyce’s favourite player — although that may not be something to brag about these days.
He is now player-manager for Notts County after an ill-advised spell in the same role at Leyton Orient.
2011 Winner – Adel Taarabt
The mercurial Moroccan was by far and away the best player in 2010/11.
His breathtaking technique and penchant for the spectacular made him a genuine joy to watch.
Unfortunately his lethargic attitude and disdain for fitness led to his downfall.
Rather depressingly he’s currently on loan at Genoa after struggling for game time with Benfica B.
2012 Winner – Rickie Lambert
The penalty king bagged 27 league goals in 2011/12 including four hat-tricks.
His goals helped Southampton progress from League One to the Premier League in just two seasons.
He probably should have stayed with the Saints in all honesty.
His brief spell at Liverpool was utterly miserable and he failed to make an impact with West Brom.
After a few months in the comforting climes of the Championship with Cardiff, Lambert retired in October 2017.
2013 Winner – Matej Vydra
Part of the great Watford/Udinese sharing policy, the Czech forward took to English football with impressive ease.
He managed 20 league goals despite a run of 13 games without scoring.
A permanent move to the Hornets followed two years later but he only actually made one league appearance as a full Watford player.
Now scoring more than his fair share for Derby…
2014 Winner – Danny Ings
From three goals in 32 games to 21 goals in 40 games, what a turnaround Ings experienced during the summer of 2013.
He fired Burnley to promotion with his clinical finishing and incomparable work rate.
His Liverpool career hit a snag when he ruptured his ACL but he’s back on the pitch and part of an exciting squad close to something special.
2015 Winner – Patrick Bamford
Genius academic proved it wasn’t just his mind that was sharp during his one-season loan spell with Middlesbrough.
His 17 goals and clever link-up play propelled Boro to the play-off final, but he couldn’t get them quite over the line as they lost to Norwich.
Further loans at Crystal Palace, Norwich and Burnley preceded a permanent move to Teeside.
He never played a game for Chelsea despite being on the Blues’ books for five years.
2016 Winner – Andre Gray
The controversial forward terrorised defences in 2015/16, scoring 23 goals in 41 appearances for Burnley.
Gray recently served a four-game ban relating to homophobic tweets but has expressed his desire to get his head down prove himself since he moved to Watford.
2017 Winner – Anthony Knockaert
The lively Frenchman contributed 15 goals and eight assists as Brighton gained promotion to the Premier League.
Still with the Seagulls, Knockaert has found life in the top flight somewhat tougher.
But as the driving force behind the club’s first visit to the Premier League, his place in Brighton’s history is assured.
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