Brighton & Hove Albion under-23 striker Aaron Connolly says there is plenty more to come from him after winning the Premier League 2 Player of the Season award.
The Irishman received his second personal accolade of the campaign, to add to his American Express Elite Performance award, and is now striving to make the next step up to first-team football in the coming months.
He said, “It’s a big honour to be picked by all the coaches of the clubs that we’ve played against this year, and I am proud to have won it. It’s an honour for my family too.
“It ranks just as highly as the one I won at the club, because it shows that the opposition appreciates what you are doing.
“I can still improve on everything though. I want to play more senior games and I want to play in front of Brighton’s fans at the Amex. If I can do that, then I’ll be proud. If not, then I’d like to go out on loan and prove my worth there."
The 19-year-old reflected on just how far he has progressed in recent years, but explained the importance of not getting carried away and using this past season as a platform to achieve even more.
“I started playing in the under-23s when I was 16 when Simon [Rusk] gave me a chance, and I scored two goals on my debut.
“If someone had told me I would’ve won the Player of the Season award for that league nearly three years later, I wouldn’t have believed them. I now want to make the step up to the first team, like I have done from the under-18s to the under-23s.
“My parents will keep me grounded and I won’t get carried away, as I want to build on it. I’ve won these awards this year and hopefully if I do get a chance next season, I can win some more and make my family proud again.”
Connolly spoke more generally about the season and admits it has not all been plain sailing in a campaign which has tested him both mentally and physically.
“It’s probably been the best, but at the same also the toughest season I’ve had since coming to Brighton.
“The first five or six months were probably the best I’ve had in my short career, then the second two or three months were probably the toughest because I got injured and then I went out on loan and didn’t play regularly.
“Hopefully I can go through a full season without injuries, score some more goals and break into the first team.”