MATT Crooks' desire to honour the memory of his late best friend has led to the Rotherham United midfielder today being crowned Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for January.
The first month of 2021 marked the one-year anniversary of Jordan Sinnott's tragic death and Crooks responded by firing in three goals in four league matches for the Millers.
"I’d like to think 'Sin' is looking down on me and has given me some luck," the player said.
“I’m delighted to win. I know it sounds a bit cliché’ but I want to thank the staff and all of the lads for putting together a good set of results and performances that have allowed me to produce the form that I have.
“The lads have been brilliant, so credit must go to them too."
Crooks beat off competition from Blackburn Rovers winger Harvey Elliott, Reading midfielder Josh Laurent and Swansea City striker Jamal Lowe to win the award.
His manager, Paul Warne, said: “He’s a real driving force for the team and he has got the goals too, which is great.
“I know every time Crooksy scores he looks up to the sky in tribute to Jordan. It has been an incredibly difficult time for him and it hit him really hard. If this makes him smile during tough times, it's really good.
“His overall performances have been really good and the lads think a lot of him. I’m really pleased for him.
“I always think that the players here get overlooked and maybe it isn’t appreciated how well they have done at times. It’s good that a player who isn’t with a club in the top three has got the award.
“It is definitely a team prize. He’s got role in the team which suits him and I think he’s done really well."
Crooks' impact hasn't been confined just to attack either.
"His taking on of information has really improved," Warne added. "For example, during a recent game there was a corner where he dropped into the zone and cleared the ball off the line with a header."
Sky Sports EFL pundit Don Goodman, who led the judging panel, said: “Crooks might not be the most well-known player in the Championship but there’s simply no doubting his effectiveness. Having made his way from the lower leagues, he is now flourishing at a higher level.
“There are fewer better sights in football than an attacking midfielder charging through on his way to scoring. Crooks made a habit of this in January."