Derby County midfielder Max Bird collected the Sammy Crooks Young Player of the Season accolade for the second time in three seasons on Tuesday evening at the club’s End of Season awards night.
The Academy graduate, who also won the award in the 2019/20 campaign has been a consistent figure in the middle of the pitch throughout the season.
The 2021/22 season has also saw him net his first-ever career goal in the 2-1 home win over Stoke City in September, ironically on the day of his 21st birthday.
He recently surpassed 100 appearances for Derby, and after seeing off competition from nine other strong candidates, Bird spoke to RamsTV to offer his immediate reaction.
On Winning The Award For The Second Time In Three Seasons…
I am very pleased to win this award. I said on the stage when it was announced, there are a lot of lads that could have won it. There were ten lads in contention, so I am honoured to win it.
It has been a good season for the team in terms of the results we’ve picked up and I am happy I have been able to contribute to that. I’ve really enjoyed it this year and I think all the players in the squad will probably say it is one of the best seasons they’ve probably had.
Some people may think that is a strange thing to say given we’ve been relegated, but with the challenge put in front of us and the fight we’ve put up is one we can be proud of.
On The Season Itself From A Personal Basis…
This season has been my best one so far, in my eyes. That’s not just personally but the team as well; I’ve enjoyed it the most. When I won the award a couple of years ago, it was during the pandemic, and I couldn’t celebrate it like I can now.
I have played a sort of different role this year; a dad to younger lads and working on my leadership skills.
I must give a shout-out to the senior players, every single of them have helped me a lot and so have the manager and coaches too. The gaffer has given me a lot of small details I can improve in my game and I’ve really enjoyed it.
On Being A ‘Dad’ To The Younger Players In The Squad…
I am on the ‘old’ team when we do Young Vs Old in training! It’s quite strange for me at 21, but when I came through a few years ago I had players like Craig Bryson, Bradley Johnson, Chris Martin, Tom Huddlestone and Richard Keogh looking after me and teaching me to get better. I’ve tried to take that on myself and help the younger lads.
On The Team’s Connection With The Supporters…
It has been phenomenal. The fans have been fantastic and in games there have been times where they’ve helped us across the line. The connection we’ve had with them has been brilliant.
On The Final Day Of The Season Against Cardiff City On Saturday…
We want to end this year on a high note. The home support has been excellent all season and the supporters were incredible at Blackpool on Saturday too, so we want to end on a high at Pride Park against Cardiff and put some smiles on faces to finish the season.
On Being Around The 1971/72 First Division Title Winners At The End Of Season Awards…
It has been an inspiration. The manager has told us all season to try and leave a legacy of our own and make sure everyone remembers this season for what we’ve done. We have given our all, but we just fell short, but it has been great to hear some of the 1971/72 team’s stories; some funny ones and some that are inspirational too.