Wheater takes dual awards

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Middlesbrough defender David Wheater has claimed a prestigious awards double after emerging from the ranks to make himself a regular in Gareth Southgate's first XI.

The 21-year-old has been named the 2008 North East Footballer of the year by the Football Writers' Association, and also claimed the young player prize.

Boro team-mate Stewart Downing was second in the senior category with Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones third.

Hartlepool's James Brown was runner-up for the young player award, while Jonny Evans, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Sunderland from Manchester United, came third.

England Under-21 international Wheater made the most injuries at the Riverside Stadium at the start of last season to force his way into the team.

His impact was such that manager Gareth Southgate was able to sell Jonathan Woodgate to Tottenham when they offered £8million for him in January.

Southgate said: "It is fantastic news and thoroughly deserved. I am delighted for David and it is a great reflection on the club.

"It's been a remarkable year for him in that the year before, he was on loan at Darlington.

"People say there's no talent in the lower divisions, but the step up is possible if you have the ability.

"I think that year taught him. He grew as a person in that year and realised he had to - in a professional sense - improve on certain things. He had to be more disciplined in his training, in his diet - that type of thing."

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Tottenham Hotspur
Jonathan Woodgate
Stewart Downing
Kenwyne Jones
Manchester United
Gareth Southgate
David Wheater
James Brown
Jonny Evans
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