Matej Vydra certainly had a 26th birthday to remember on Tuesday.
The forward completed a clean-sweep of Derby County’s Player of the Season awards following a hugely impressive personal campaign.
Vydra has scored 21 goals in all competitions so far this season and lifted the Jack Stamps Player of the Year award, voted for by the supporters, at the club’s annual awards night at Pride Park Stadium.
He also received the Players’ Player of the Year accolade, in unanimous fashion, and the Leading Goalscorer award for his prolific exploits in front of goal.
The Czech Republic international last week claimed the Supporters’ Club Player of the Year award and has also been named in the EFL and PFA’s respective Championship Team of the Season in recent weeks.
He also might need to keep a bit more room spare on his mantlepiece, though.
Vydra is in the running to win the Championship’s Golden Boot, with one game of the regular campaign left to play, and is currently level on 20 league goals alongside Aston Villa’s Lewis Grabban.
Praise has regularly been directed Vydra’s way throughout the campaign and the man that has got the very best out of him is Gary Rowett.
The Derby boss was quick to highlight his qualities soon after taking charge last March and labelled him as ‘the best number 10 in the Championship’ earlier in the season.
Vydra has been the Rams’ go-to guy for goals and upon collecting his abundance of awards on Tuesday evening he described the 2017/18 season as the best of his career to date.
Rowett says Vydra deserves the recognition for his performances and influence on the side, particularly as he had struggled to make an impact in the months prior to the 44-year-old’s appointment last year.
Speaking to RamsTV, the Derby boss said: “It was a terrific evening for Vyds on Tuesday in terms of the recognition for the season that he has had.
“It wasn’t all about recognising the goals that he has scored and the talent that he has, but also the improvement that this season has seen for him.
“His fellow professionals and team-mates voted him as their Player of the Year, on top of the supporters too, and that shows they appreciate what he has done for the team.
“So often his moments of brilliance have won us games but he has worked incredibly hard as well. He has performed in a consistent fashion and he is a really popular lad in the dressing room.”
He added: “He isn’t one for big speeches but he is quite a funny lad too. He deserves the awards because he had a terrific season and, like we have said many times before, we hope it isn’t over yet.”
On-loan Sheffield Wednesday striker Sam Winnall, perhaps unsurprisingly, won the Goal of the Season award.
His stunning long-range strike in the 2-1 victory at Ipswich Town back in December was always going to take some beating.
That said, Derby have scored some fine individual and team goals this season – but Winnall’s always looked a cut above.
The 27-year-old admitted himself on stage that the campaign has been a bittersweet one for him.
He sustained a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury at the beginning of February, just days after the closure of the transfer window.
Winnall has remained with Derby for the early stages of his rehabilitation and remained very much part of the Rams’ promotion quest, albeit from the sidelines.
His goals, six from 17 appearances, played a vital role in Derby’s rise up the table during the latter months of 2017.
Rowett believes winning the award, despite the clear quality of Winnall’s strike at Portman Road, demonstrates the popularity the frontman has amongst the Rams’ supporters and his peers.
He said: “It was a testament how popular Sam is that he won the award. The goal was not only a wonderful strike but it shows how highly he is thought of that everyone wanted to vote for him.
“He has gone down really well with the fans in terms of energy, effort and desire to get on the end of things. Not many players get their own chants and, even when he has been out injured, the fans have been singing his name.
“It certainly has been a difficult season for him because he came in with the aim of playing games and contributing in getting us to where we want to be. After not really playing at Sheffield Wednesday early on he felt this was a big opportunity for him and he fitted in well.
“Just as he was finding form in my opinion and getting into a goalscoring groove he got injured. That happens in football and it’s the side of the game that people don’t really see. It was a blow for him but he has taken it on the chin and he is working hard to come back stronger.”
Youngsters Luke Thomas and Jayden Bogle were also award winners in what has been a progressive season for the duo.
Forward Thomas lifted the Sammy Crooks Young Player of the Year award while full-back Bogle was named as the Rams’ Scholar of the Year.
Both players have been in-and-around Derby’s first-team set-up in recent months after impressing at Academy level for the Under-23s.
The pair have developed impressively over the last 12 months and have appeared on the substitutes’ bench on a handful of occasions.
Thomas was rewarded with a first-team debut earlier in the season and the pair also got the taste of a local derby as unused substitutes in the 0-0 draw at Nottingham Forest in March.
Rowett is convinced that both Thomas and Bogle will reap the benefits of being around the first-team squad next season - and he says they are very much part of his plans for the future.
They showed great maturity when speaking about their seasons with RamsTV and clearly the way they are developing as players and individuals bodes well for the years ahead.
He said: “They have acquitted themselves well in and around the squad.
“They are different characters; Luke is perhaps a bit more insular and quiet compared to Jayden but I am sure that isn’t the case around his own peers. Jayden perhaps looks that little bit more comfortable in the first-team environment at times.
“Luke has been outstanding in the Under-23s for a player at 19 years of age and has scored and created goals. It isn’t that long ago he was on loan at Gloucester City and for him to come into the first-team fold is a step up.
“He’s doing what he has been doing for the Under-23s in training and he’s seen the fruits of his labour by making two first-team appearances. I’ve been really pleased with him and see him as a big part of next season.
“Jayden is a bit younger but we see him in the same light as well. He has massive potential and while hasn’t made his first-team debut yet, he has been in and around the squad by training every day.”
He added: “Sometimes they might be the extra man in the matchday squad and making the teas on the coach to away games if you like, but by being immersed in that environment we hope that they can kick on again and step up.
“The point of being involved at the moment is for both players to be aware what is required from them.”