ORIOL Romeu has capped off an excellent season by winning the Daily Echo’s Southampton FC Player of the Season award.
Romeu has been the standout man of an up and down campaign for Saints in defensive midfield.
And now his stellar performances have seen him crowned the 44th Echo Player of the Season after a runaway victory in the poll.
The 25-year-old, who was signed for a bargain £5m from Chelsea in 2015, was the top pick for 65 per cent of the thousands of voters who submitted their selection for the famous gong, which lists legends Matthew Le Tissier, Mick Channon, Kevin Keegan, Peter Shilton, Alan Shearer and Rickie Lambert among its previous winners.
Romeu was by far and away the most popular choice.
His nearest rivals were Maya Yoshida and Virgil van Dijk, who claimed joint-second place in the running with 11 per cent of the vote apiece.
Yoshida has stepped up at Saints this season, having become a mainstay at centre-back after Jose Fonte’s exit and Van Dijk’s long-term injury.
The vital Dutchman was ruled out in January with a foot ligament problem.
Van Dijk has since had an operation on the problem and is set to return next season.
His performances up until his injury were sublime and he would have given Romeu a run for his money had his campaign not ended prematurely.
Following this pair, James Ward-Prowse and Ryan Bertrand both claim third place.
They both received four per cent of the vote, while Nathan Redmond, Steven Davis and Charlie Austin notched one per cent each.
It was Romeu, though, who comes out deserved winner.
The former Barcelona man, who also claimed the club’s prize, has missed just three Premier League matches - and that was only through suspension.
He has made the fourth most tackles per game (3.4) in the top-flight of any player.
It has truly been an exceptional term, which has been made more praiseworthy because of the boots he had to fill.
When Romeu arrived from Chelsea in August 2015, he was very much second choice to the brutish Victor Wanyama.
It stayed that way until, inevitably, the wantaway Wanyama was sold to Tottenham.
Romeu got his chance at the beginning of this season and has not looked back.
He is more than just a defensive midfielder, boasting a great range of passing too.