James Ward-Prowse was amongst the winners at Tuesday evening’s Player Awards Dinner, sponsored by Eterna.
The 18-year-old collected the club’s Scholar of the Season Award from Academy Manager Matt Crocker, after a year of excelling both on and off the pitch.
He was joined in being nominated for the award by Luke Shaw, who has been a regular at left-back for the First Team, and Under-18s captain Dominic Gape.
James’s impressive results in his academic studies combined with regular Premier League football is a feat that not too many people of his age can boast, with the youngster acknowledging how far he has come.
“It’s been a year for me where I’ve grown in stature and I’ve felt as though I’ve matured in every single way,” he told saintsfc.co.uk.
“To beat off the likes of Dom – who has had a great season as captain of the 18s – and Lukey, who’s been an inspiration this year, is great. He has made 25 appearances or so and by playing the way that he has. He’s not just played, he’s contributed really well too.”
Ward-Prowse got the nod over his two competitors for his increased commitment to education, and the teenage midfielder admits it has been a tough ask to concentrate on studying and playing football.
“Some days it’s hard to find the motivation to do it because you’re involved in a Premier League team so it’s sort of the last thing that you want to do,” he said, “but it’s something I had to go through to consider for my future and for after football if I need it because you never know what can happen.
“It’s important to do it and an example for the younger kids coming through.
“I’ve also got players in the squad that are inspiring me every day. Each day is a challenge to be the best and by playing with these guys I’m only going to get better.”
James also passed on his congratulations to double award-winner Morgan Schneiderlin, who has become a close ally in the First Team over the past season or so.
“I remember on my debut up at [Crystal] Palace last year, Morgan was the one talking to me and encouraging me, setting the standard, and this year he’s done the same.
“He’s always been there to help me. I sit next to him in the dressing room too, so he’s welcomed me nicely into the group which has made him a real role model for me.”