RICKIE LAMBERT has been awarded the EFL’s Sir Tom Finney Award in recognition of his lifetime achievement in the game.
The 36-year-old played more than 600 league games in all four divisions of English football, scoring 215 goals and winning three promotions.
The ex-Bristol Rovers forward capped a remarkable journey to the top when he was part of the England squad for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
The 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 as his 27 goals helped Southampton to the top flight.
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.
Lambert said: “The best years that I had were in the Football League. The best memories I’ve had were in the Football League.
“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.
“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 Brom and Cardiff.
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 tomorrow 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.
The event will also include the announcement of the Sky Bet Player of the Season for the Championship, League One and League Two.