Last night Manchester City youngster Marcos “Rony” Lopes picked up the “Rising Star” North-West Football award at the annual ceremony, beating the likes of England international Ross Barkley to the accolade.
The attacking-midfielder is currently on loan at French side Lille OSC and the 18-year-old has quickly made himself an important part of their system, but he was still surprised to pick up the award.
"It is was a surprise if I'm honest, but I'm very happy to have won it. Looking at some of the people I was up against, it is even more special because Barkley in particular had a great season last year.
"Any award is pleasing but this one is special because there are so many big clubs in the north-west."
Since joining Lille on loan in the summer, Lopes has made nine appearances, six of them from the start, but injuries have stopped him really finding his best form. However, Lille poor season has magnified just how talented the young midfield can be.
René Girard’s side has only scored nine times in 13 games, but only twice have the failed to score in matches where Lopes has made an appearance, in fact, only once have they not scored when the Portuguese U19 has been named in the starting XI.
His first goal of the season came in the 2-0 home win over Nantes. Brought on at half-time, Lopes would score seconds after coming on, set up by Liverpool loanee Divock Origi.
The last game that Lille won this season was back on the 27th of September; the 1-0 win over Bastia was the same game in which Lopes was injured.
After missing six weeks, the Lille fans were delighted to see the playmaker start in the home match against Saint-Etienne. Les Dogues would take the lead when Lopes shot bounced off the turf only to fall into the path of striker Michael Frey. However, Lille’s performance dropped when Lopes had to come off at the end of the first-half.
Without Lopes to dictate the Lille attack, the home side looked toothless. Speaking to the Manchester City website after winning his award, Lopes is eager to get back on the pitch.
"It has been really good so far though the injuries have been frustrating," the 18-year-old added. "I just want to return to playing as soon as possible.
"I have the rest of the season ahead of me and I'm only thinking of my time with Lille at present, but I'm obviously hoping I can continue to gain experience and use that when I return to City next season."
Lille fans will be hoping he returns to full-fitness soon and shows the Stade Pierre Mauroy faithful just why he was selected for this excellent award.