Sam Gallagher's willingness to make a positive impression in his adopted home during his season long loan spell has seen him named as Blackburn Rovers’ PFA Community Champion for the 2016/17 season.
The on-loan Southampton striker was handed the award during Tuesday night’s Disabled Supporters’ end of season party and player of the year awards night at Ewood Park, hailing the positive impact he has made during a variety of appearances at community events in and around the Blackburn area during the current season.
Every year, the Professional Footballers' Association asks each club to nominate the player from their squad that they feel is the most worthy recipient of the PFA Community Champion Award, and with around 150 appearances completed by the first team squad at over 40 different events this season, there was plenty of competition for the trophy at Ewood Park this time round.
The accolade recognises the one player within the squad that has gone the extra mile during the various appearances they undertake in the local area each season in conjunction with the Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, helping with a variety of charitable activities.
Sam triumphed thanks to the manner in which he approached a variety of challenges. From facing frantic Q&As from primary school children through to learning how to perform the perfect forward roll at a PE lesson, motivating junior teams at the Kinder +Sport Kids' Cup and even becoming a FIFA '17 champion by beating his team mates in a special tournament to promote the new GAME Room, he was a perfect ambassador every time, with the club and Community Trust receiving written feedback from well-wishers, praising his attitude and demeanour.
As such, he was proudly presented with the award at the Ewood Park celebration by Blackburn Rovers Community Trust CEO Gary Robinson.
Adrian Ward, who oversees the majority of local player appearances on behalf of the Community Trust, believes that Sam is a worthy winner, explaining:
"The current season has been our busiest for many years in terms of the number of appearances our first team players have made at local venues like schools, sports centres and hospitals, meaning that we've had the pleasure of working with every first team player at some point during the season, with most carrying out several appearances each.
"It meant that we got to know a little bit more about the character of each player and the positive way that they respond when they're put in front of completely different challenges like audiences of young children. In a field where a number of players stood out for possessing those qualities, Sam was one that we particularly enjoyed working with, conducting every challenge with a smile and being accommodating to every request we asked of him.
"Seeing one of our coaches convince him to perform a demonstration of various roly-poly techniques to infant school children at St James' Primary School in Blackburn was definitely one of the most amusing and visual events we helped to create this season, and typified the sense of fun that we hope our players can provide when we work with them on special appearances away from the more familiar stadium or training ground surroundings."