Collison scoops top award

Jack Collison has added to his Young Hammer of the Year award by being named BBC London Young Player of the Year for 2009.

The Wales international, who made a successful return from a knee injury towards the end of last season, has been in impressive form this campaign, getting on the scoresheet in the recent games with Hull City and Burnley.

"I am delighted to win the award, it's always nice to be recognised but I have just really enjoyed playing my football this year," said Collison. "Coming through and playing in a good team here at West Ham, a team that likes to get the ball down and play football."

A panel of judges consisting of members of the BBC London sports team and independent journalists pick the winners of the awards, which are held to recognise and honour sporting achievements in London. Collison attributed much of the performances which caught the eye of the panel to manager Gianfranco Zola and his coaching team.

"The manager has been brilliant for me, he has given me and our other young players coming through a chance to go out there and express ourselves. Most of all, he [Zola] has let us go out there and play without fear - he gives us guidance, helps us if we go wrong but also encourages us doing the things we do well - that is all you can ask for from a manager.

"But it's not just the manager, it goes from our Academy with Tony Carr, through to Kevin Keen, Steve Clarke and right through to the gaffer. There is a really good set-up here at West Ham and they keep producing young players. Hopefully that will continue for the future."

Learning on the job is all part of the development process as a footballer and Collison has had plenty of expert tuition. The midfielder has felt the benefit from training alongside his more experienced colleagues on a daily basis.

"I have mentioned the manager and the management staff, who have all been tremendous to me and all the young players. It's great to go out there and have the opportunity to play in the Premier League.

"I am alongside some experienced pros like Scotty Parker, Matty Upson and Rob Green - I am learning all the time, it's a brilliant club and it's great to be part of it all here."

In addition to the support of his manager and team-mates, the 21-year-old explained the unwavering backing of the Boleyn Ground crowd over the past few months, in what has been a testing period off the pitch, has also been greatly appreciated.

"The fans have been brilliant, ever since I came through into the team. They enjoy seeing homegrown players come through. This year has seen me go through a tough time personally and the fans have been tremendous to me, and the best way to repay them for their incredible support, especially this year, is go out and play for them and do my best for the team.

"The players and all the staff have also been brilliant for me during this time and as I said I just want to keep going out there and playing my best for West Ham United."

Although the award is now safely on his mantelpiece alongside his Young Hammer of the Year accolade, Collison is determined not to rest on his laurels and wants to continue his progress on the pitch.

"I just want to keep playing as much football as I can, for West Ham - I enjoy it and love playing in front of our fans.

"We know we have to improve as a team, we're not in the position we want to be at the moment, but we look forward all the time and look to get out of where we are and get better as the season goes on."