Rickie Lambert named Football League Player of the Year

Rickie Lambert of Southampton has been named as the Football League Player of the Year at an awards ceremony in London.

The 30-year-old has scored 25 goals in 39 appearances for Saints this season, including three hat-tricks.

"I have a lot of experience and I've kept learning. I feel I'm at my peak right now," said Lambert.

Huddersfield's Jordan Rhodes took the League One award, while Swindon's Matt Ritchie was the League Two winner.

Lambert joined Saints from Bristol Rovers for £1m in August 2009 and has since scored 82 goals in 149 appearances for the Championship leaders, who are pushing for a return to the top flight for the first time since 2005.

More 2012 winners

  • League One Player of Year: Jordan Rhodes, Huddersfield
  • League Two Player of Year: Matt Ritchie, Swindon
  • Young Player of Year: Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace
  • Goal of the Year: Peter Whittingham, Cardiff
  • Outstanding managerial achievement: Gus Poyet, Brighton

Lambert added: "The last two years have been brilliant and the next one-and-a-half months are the biggest of our lives."

Brighton's Gus Poyet claimed the outstanding managerial achievement award, beating off competition from Dougie Freedman of Crystal Palace and Lee Clark, who was sacked by Huddersfield last month despite the Terriers losing only three of his last 55 league games in charge.

Former Chelsea and Tottenham midfielder Poyet has guided the Seagulls to a place in the Championship play-off spots this year, following promotion from League One last season.

The 44-year-old said: "Brighton have had some difficult times in the past but things are going really well now. The players have worked so hard for me to turn things around and hopefully we can push on towards the Premier League now."

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha was named Young Player of the Year, with the 19-year-old having already made 40 appearances for the Eagles this season.

The award for best goal went to Cardiff's Peter Whittingham for his stunning 25-yard volley against Barnsley in March last year.

The 27-year-old said: "That was the best goal I've ever scored and to be up against so many great goals and win the award is very special."

Previous winners

  • 2011: Adel Taarabt (QPR)
  • 2010: Kevin Nolan (Newcastle)
  • 2009: Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (Wolves)
  • 2008: Kevin Phillips (West Brom)
  • 2007: Jason Koumas (West Brom)
  • 2006: Phil Jagielka (Sheffield United)

Coventry midfielder Gael Bigirimana, 18, won the Championship Apprentice of the Year award.

The Burundi-born teenager, who has made 21 appearances for the Sky Blues this season, said: "It means the world to me and brings confidence and desire to achieve more in the game."

Charlton's Jordan Cousins, 18, won the League One Apprentice of the Year award and Crewe's Nick Powell, 17, was the League Two winner.

Portsmouth were named best family club, with marketing executive Tom Gorringe saying: "Everyone talks in dire terms [about the club's future] but in your heart of hearts you just know that whatever happens some form of Pompey will always be there.

"As long as there's a fan base there will be a football club and the fans will drive forward what we do."

Best matchday programme went to Burnley's Claret and You, while Rotherham took the community club award.

Millwall's Tamika Mkandawire received the Player in the Community award.