Sunderland forward Duncan Watmore saw off competition from Chelsea’s Dominic Solanke, Arsenal’s Dan Crowley, Southampton’s Ryan Seager, Liverpool’s Harry Wilson and Fulham’s Ange-Freddy Plumain to become Barclays Under-21 Premier League Player of the Year.
Watmore, who began his career at Altrincham, had an excellent campaign despite suffering a leg break leaving him on the sideline for three months.
The 21-year-old scored 11 goals in 18 U21 Premier League matches. On the international stage, Watmore scored on his England U20 debut against Morocco, in a contest which ended in a 3-3 draw, at the Toulon Tournament on Thursday.
"It was a nice bonus for the hard work I’ve put in throughout the season but the team have also helped me massively. It is a proud achievement and a nice accolade to receive because I feel like I’m playing the best football of my life,” Watmore told Sky Sports.
Sunderland U21 coach, Robbie Stockdale, who has worked closely with Watmore, added: “He’s a special player and the pleasing thing is that he’s also a fantastic person. He’s likeable, approachable and the really exciting thing is that he still has some way to go.
“He’s a bit of a throwback, he plays with no fear and he has pace in abundance, but there are things to work on and he understands that, so hopefully he will kick on next year like a number of our other players."
Watmore initially started his football at Altrincham, where he broke into the first-team before joining Sunderland. He made his debut for the Sunderland first-team in January 2014, appearing as a substitute in a 3–1 win against Carlisle United in the third round of the FA Cup.
His father is Ian Watmore, chief executive of the Football Association. Despite making the big move to Sunderland in 2014, the youngster continued studying for a degree in economics and business management, transferring from Manchester University to Newcastle University.
He is clearly a young made with his head screwed on and will be hoping to start impressing on a senior Premier League stage in the not too distant future, with Sunderland's struggles in 2014/15 preventing him from making the impact he would have been hoping for at senior level.