MATT Gilks heads to Florida today with five player of the season awards in his suitcase, including The Gazette’s.
The Blackpool keeper followed in the footsteps of David Vaughan and Charlie Adam by scooping the prize, voted for by Gazette readers.
After almost sweeping the board at the club’s annual player of the season bash last night, Gilks described it as “a lovely way to round off a long, tough season” ... though for him the season isn’t over quite yet.
He isn’t heading to Florida for a holiday – he is on Scotland duty.
The 29-year-old said: “We play the USA in an international friendly on Saturday. I need to focus on that but it is going to be hard because I am still devastated by what happened at Wembley.
“All I can think about is being sat in the dressing room afterwards and it was pure silence.
“There were a few handshakes and ‘well dones’, which we thoroughly deserved after the way we played as a team.
“But there were no words you can console anyone with really – it was horrible to lose that match and for a whole season’s work to go up in smoke.
“It is going to be on my mind, but unfortunately this is football and you are going to have disappointments during your career. It can’t all be good.
“We are strong characters – you have to be to do this job because of days like Saturday. So I will dust myself down, pick myself up again and I am sure someone will give me a slap if I need it.”
At least Gilks had something to smile about last night, walking off with not only the Gazette award but four others too – including the coveted Players’ Player of the Year, voted for by the Blackpool squad.
Gilks emerged as the clear winner of the Gazette prize.
More than 1,000 readers cast their votes, with the keeper receiving the lion’s share.
Alex Baptiste – superb all year at the back – was his closest challenger, with 17-goal striker Kevin Phillips taking third place.
Ian Evatt, Tom Ince and Matt Phillips also won many votes. But in front of 400 guests in the sponsors’ lounge at Bloomfield Road, Gilks was named best man.
He added: “It is a brilliant thing to win because it has been voted for by the supporters.
“They come and watch the games week in, week out.
“One thing I have really tried to be in the last few years is be consistent and I don’t think I have made too many mistakes, so it is nice that people have noticed that.
“I feel this has probably been the best season of my career in terms of the way I have played.
“It has been a long, tough campaign and I am absolutely gutted we couldn’t round it off by winning at Wembley because that is what every single one of us wanted.
“But at least the Gazette award and the others is a little consolation.
“I am a bit overwhelmed to win so many. I really didn’t expect that.
“I’ve just been doing my job – I don’t consider myself to have done anything particularly special.
“But I suppose it is a lovely way for me personally to end the year and it makes me even more determined to come back next and make sure this club gets back to the top flight. Every one of us inside the dressing room believes we can do that.
“We’ve got a good squad, with some terrific players, and hopefully next season we can go one step further and actually win promotion.”