TOM Ince says he is loving every minute of his time at Blackpool after being named the Championship’s young player of the year at the Football League Awards.
The 21-year-old beat off Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and Watford’s Matej Vydra to receive the award at a gala ceremony in London.
Ince has been in sizzling form for the Seasiders, firing 18 goals this season, and has become a regular for England U21s.
And he’s hoping the latest honour will be just the start. Ince said: “It is a massive honour when you look at some of the players who have won this award and what they have gone on to achieve.
“It is an inspiration, and hopefully I can build on what I have done this season with Blackpool and the U21s and have a good career.
“It’s been a short but exciting 18 months for me at Blackpool, who have put their faith in young players.
“My dream was always to pull on the red shirt of Liverpool at Anfield. That didn’t work out for me.
“Now my dream is to work hard and enjoy my football – that’s it for the moment.
“There’s been a lot of talk about clubs being interested in me but that will fall into place if I’m playing well.
“I love every minute playing for Blackpool and my dad – without them I wouldn’t have won the award.”
Indeed, being managed by his father doesn’t seem to bother Town, except where his Lytham apartment is concerned.
He explained: “I spent all that time trying to move out on my own, then he comes and moves in with me. I wouldn’t mind but he’s taken over the TV and taken my room!”
Ince has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs, with Liverpool, Swansea and Reading all making enquiries in the last transfer window. More interest is bound to follow this summer but it’s not something preying on Ince’s mind.
“In the summer anything can change and I am happy where I am,” he said.
“If I am at Blackpool, my feet will be on the ground. It is about timing – sometimes you can jump too soon.”
Blackpool find themselves 17th in the Championship, a position no-one would have predicted at the start of the season.
And avoiding the drop is Ince’s only aim. He added: “It’s been up and down. It’s not easy when you get managerial changes.
“At the start of the season we were flying high at the top, but have you seen our pitch? It’s like Blackpool beach.
“So there have been disappointments this season but we have a great group of lads. We all work for each other.
“We have to make sure we keep Blackpool in the Championship and then next season are challenging at the top, where we should be.”
Vydra walked away with the Championship Player of the Year Award.
The awards for npower League 1 and League 2 went to Bournemouth’s Matt Ritchie and Port Vale’s Tom Pope respectively.
Peter Shilton OBE received the prestigious Contribution to League Football Award.