The Sky's The Limit
For the second season in a row, the identity of Grilled's Player of the Season was a completely open secret, with there being no achievement coming close to Tian Yonghang
's 24 goals, including 17 in the league, and as a withdrawn forward, no less. The joke going around before the ceremony was that bets were only being taken on who would be coming in second, and Niculae Stanca
hammed it up by announcing Seytek Djekshenkulov
... as being the runner-up, just ahead of Zhu Changchun
in the overall reckoning.
"As for the Player of the Season, well, it's not like anybody doesn't
know. Tian Yonghang
, please step up!" Stanca then continued, as Seytek glanced about in mock disappointment. The winner feigned surprise for bit, before hopping up and basically repeating his Golden Boot acceptance speech. "I'm a footballer, not an orator, so don't expect a new one!" he warned.
It was Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
's turn to do the praising, with the previous winner coming off a lacklustre season by his high standards. "Yonghang showed us all what he can really do. I have been with him since our days in the Chicken Wings, and the plan has always been the same - when in doubt, pass to Tian. He'll set things straight."
There was much more surprise when the Young Player of the Season was revealed, and for the first time, it went to a lad who had not kicked a ball for the senior side, and may never now that he is the No. 99 of Italian club Mazzolandia. Santosh Manik was the chosen, and scout Mok Feng De was on hand to give the award to his parents with Manik beaming over a live stream, the same as for Mayur Gudivada a couple of seasons back.
Mok clarified that the award had technically always been open to players from the academy, but given the bigger stage that trainees with the senior side are afforded, none had made it so far. He then stressed that Manik's selection was not down to any inadequacy from the older candidates, but simply down to how he had dominated in the youth league.
"Everyone has done well, it is just that Santosh has been amazing." Mok explained. "If I may say so, he has shades of all three of our top strikers in him. I am sure that many will be eagerly following his progress, and if it be fated, perhaps we will see him here again one day!"
The night ended on a slightly flat note as Stanca took the opportunity to clear it up that while Arrogancae have made former Grilled star Zhao Jing Wei available for S$5 million, the club have not put in an offer, and not due to lack of interest. "Zhao would be a superb addition, and we could do with another midfielder, but our circumstances do not permit the move at the moment. It's a pity, really."