Crewe boss Dario Gradi said he was "honoured" to receive the Contribution to League Football award at the Football League Awards annual ceremony.
The 69-year-old has spent nearly 28 years at Gresty Road after initially joining as first-team manager in June 1983 before relinquishing his managerial duties in 2007 and taking over as the club's technical director.
Gradi has since resumed control of the first team, while also helping out with the set-up and running of the club's successful youth academy, overseeing the rise of David Platt, Danny Murphy, and Dean Ashton among others. Gradi said: "It was a surprise to get this award and I certainly didn't expect it, but it's lovely to get such an honour."
He added: "It has been great to develop the academy at Crewe. I'm a coach, I enjoy the challenge of working with footballers and then seeing the finished product.
"It's called the 'lifetime' award, well it has been a strange night, but I've thoroughly enjoyed it."
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