England legend, Steph Houghton, is being honoured next month for her role in football development, her contribution to charities and for inspiring more girls and women to take up the game.

Steph will receive the North East Football Writers’ Association’s Annual Awards Personality of the Year trophy, which is given in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation to recognise someone who uses their position in football to benefit the wider community.

The 31-year-old Manchester City captain, described by The Football Association as, “a role model in every sense,” will receive recognition for her off-the-field activities, which include official roles with the Professional Players Association, UEFA, The James Milner Foundation and the NSPCC.

She will also be recognised for campaigning to end period poverty and for her great commitment to The Darby Rimmer MND Foundation, a charity launched after her husband, Stephen Darby, was diagnosed with the disease in 2018.

Steph, who is from Durham, will be following in the footsteps of Alan Shearer, who received the North East Personality of the Year trophy last year.

It will be presented at the North East Football Writers’ Association Awards, sponsored by William Hill, which are held annually at Ramside Hall Hotel in Durham to celebrate the best of North East football. The event will, once again, raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, which helps find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.

Due to her football commitments that day (Manchester City play Arsenal), Steph may not be able to receive the award in person but, in that event, a representative will do so on her behalf.

Speaking for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Lady Elsie says: “This is the sixth year we’ve helped the Football Writers’ Association choose a recipient for this award and Steph is the first woman to receive it. That seems very fitting given as she’s been such a pioneer in the women’s game.

“Steph has worked extremely hard to achieve her success and she’s also done so much to help others in that time. She’s a very worthy winner of this special award.”

In addition to the presentation to Steph, the North East Football Writers’ Association will be taking the opportunity at the awards night to pay tribute to the seven Lionesses who are from this region.

The chair of the Football Writers’ Association nationally, Carrie Brown, says: “In the week the Football Writers’ Association pays tribute to Vincent Kompany, it’s fitting we announce Steph Houghton as the winner of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Personality of the Year.

“The England and Manchester City captain can stand shoulder to shoulder with Kompany after leading club and country to unprecedented success in, arguably, the most important and influential decade in the history of the women’s game.

“Off the field, Steph has been an impeccable ambassador for the sport and the sport, in turn, has come out in support for Steph and her husband, former Liverpool player Stephen Darby.

“Stephen was diagnosed with motor neurone disease last year and, with his close friend Chris Rimmer, has set-up the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation in hope of finding a cure for the disease.

“I am delighted the North East branch of the FWA has recognised Steph, and all seven players from the region who represented the Lionesses in France last summer.

“Congratulations also to Scottish international Kathryn Hill, whose imperious form in defence for Durham Women has won her the Women’s Player of the Year Award.

“The FWA looks forward to hosting what promises to be a wonderful night of celebration for the men’s and women’s game.”

Appointed England captain in 2014, Steph has appeared at two World Cups and two European Championships, as well as starring for Team GB at London 2012. She is the most recent player to earn a century of England caps.

At club level, her career began with Sunderland Ladies, before joining Leeds United Ladies, where she won an FA Women’s Cup medal, and then winning numerous honours with Arsenal.

Steph moved to Manchester City six years ago and has been instrumental in helping the club become one of the powerhouses of the women’s game, guiding her team to trophies in all three domestic competitions.

Other recipients of North East Football Writers’ Association awards this year include Men’s Player of the Year, Fabian Schar (Newcastle United), Young Player of the Year, Sean Longstaff (Newcastle United) and Womens’ Player of the Year, Kathryn Hill (Durham Women FC).

The previous winners of the North East Personality of the Year trophy, in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, are:

• Alan Shearer
• Jermain Defoe
• Steve Harper
• Robbie Elliott
• Niall Quinn

Tickets for the North East Football Writers’ Association Awards are available from Claire Stephen at Ramside Hall Hotel (0191 375 3080/ claire.stephen@ramsidehallhotel.co.uk).

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