Fulham midfielder Chris James has picked up the New Zealand Soccer International Young Men’s Player of the Year award.
The former Academy player won the award following his encouraging performances for the All Whites against Brazil, Charlton and Sevilla.
James, originally from New Zealand, joined Fulham’s Academy shortly after moving to England. He made good progress through the youth ranks and also picked up over 30 caps for various England youth sides.
However, his decision to return to his roots and represent the All Whites was warmly welcomed by New Zealand Manager, Ricki Herbert, who has been delighted with the midfielder’s contributions to the senior side.
"He's a great kid who's added a spark to the side and it's great we got him," Herbert said. "Technically he's very good and he's got the potential to play at a very good level. Playing at international level will only enhance that."
James was, naturally, delighted to have scooped the accolade, as he told fulhamfc.com. “It’s a great honour to be recognised by my country,” he said. “It just goes to show that the hard work I put in over the past six years with Fulham and on the international stage was worth it.”
The added experience gained by playing at international level has certainly contributed to James’ impressive form for the Reserves this season. Employed mainly on the right wing, his range of passing, set piece deliveries and energetic play have made him a regular fixture for Billy McKinlay and Ray Lewington’s side.
“The Reserves have done really well recently,” said James. “At the start of the season the results didn’t come but the performances were there. Now we’re getting the performances and the results. I had two targets at the start of the season, one was to make my full debut for New Zealand and the other was to get that First Team debut with Fulham. I’ve crossed one off and I’m looking to achieve the other one now.”