Rafa Benitez hailed Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie after the pair were honoured by the North East Football Writers’ Association.
Lascelles and Ritchie – who helped Newcastle United win the Championship last season – were joint-winners of the prestigious Player of the Year award, which was presented at an awards night at the Ramside Hall, Durham, on Sunday night.
“Both were key players (in the Championship) and are key players for us,” said United manager Benitez.
“They are the character of the team, the passion. They are both very competitive.
“I think it’s what you’re looking for as a fan. They care about the shirt, the team and they want to win. Both were fantastic for us.”
Lascelles said: “I’m over the moon to be collecting a massive award – it’s a huge honour,” said Lascelles.
They are the character of the team, the passion. They are both very competitive. I think it’s what you’re looking for as a fan. They care about the shirt, the team and they want to win.Rafa Benitez
“It just shows that we’ve both been doing the right things. I’m sure the manager’s really pleased that two of his players are getting this award. It’s a huge thing, and I’m over the moon.”