SAINTS legend Rickie Lambert insisted he is "so pleased" for Adam Armstrong and labelled the top-scoring forward "brilliant to watch".

The 27 year old hit 24 goals and provided 13 assists as Saints won promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Armstrong's combined goal contributions tally - 37 - was the best of any player in England's top four divisions this season.

They were also the best figures of any Saints player since Lambert fired the St Mary's side to promotion from the Championship in 2011/12.

Eventual England international Lambert went slightly better than Armstrong, netting a remarkable 27 goals and 14 assists.

Speaking to the Daily Echo, Lambert said: "It's the most important thing in football. I'm not just saying it because I was a striker. It simply is.

"When you've got a person on the pitch like Adam, who provides goals and assists every time he's on the pitch, it's vital.

"Without that type of player, very rarely do you see teams getting promoted and getting anywhere near promotion." 

"It was key to Southampton's success. You have a player that you can trust and that's going to put the ball in the back of the net." 

Lambert netted four hattricks during the 2011/12 campaign - devastating Nottingham Forest, Brighton, Watford and Millwall.

Armstrong, however, trickled his contributions with a goal in 20 separate games - including the playoff semi-final and final. 

Lambert insists: "I had a huge impact in a few games, whereas Adam's had an impact in more games over the entire season.

Daily Echo: Adam Armstrong celebrates winning against Leeds United at WembleyAdam Armstrong celebrates winning against Leeds United at Wembley (Image: PA)

"That is more important in my eyes. People are starting to realise the importance of assists now as well.

"You're giving it to a player around the box who you know that you can make a run off and who's going to provide you with the right pass."

He added: "He's been brilliant to watch, mate. I've loved watching him. I've watched him a couple of times at St Mary's.

"Every time he gets it. he either almost scores or he almost provides an assist, or he does score or he does provide assists. 

"He's one of the players that you're on the edge of your seat because you know something's going to happen. It's brilliant."

Armstrong struggled in his first go at the Premier League with Saints, after a £15million move from Blackburn Rovers in August 2021.

He hit just four goals in 53 matches, with his role regressing to left midfield as the club hurtled towards relegation in his second season.

All eyes will be on the Geordie - who wore shades to mask his intoxication at the club's promotion party - this time around.

"All these lads have now tasted the Premier League, had a really good season in the Championship and now they're ready," Lambert said.

Daily Echo: Saints legend Rickie Lambert backs Adam Armstrong to step up to the Premier LeagueSaints legend Rickie Lambert backs Adam Armstrong to step up to the Premier League

"I think they're going to smash next year. I think they need a few additions, which I think they'll get. But these players will thrive next year.

"Especially Adam. If we bring in at least one more attacking player who has good Premier League ability, then you'll see the best of Adam. 

"When you come to the Premier League, if you're the focal point, you are isolated and that's a very hard position to play for your team."

Lambert managed the step up fine - his average goals total reduced by around 50 per cent and that meant he scored 15 in his first season.

He followed that up with 13 - alongside 10 assists - in the 2013/14 season before making a dream move to Liverpool.

Lambert recalled: "I was in the right place mentally to be able to handle the pressure.

"I did notice that I was going from a two-pronged attack, 4-4-2 basically, to a 4-3-3, which turns into a 4-5-1.

"You're isolated, you're playing against two centre-backs and maybe a deep line midfielder, which sometimes is three against one.

"This is very, very difficult, especially when you're playing against Premier League standard defenders. 

It becomes more difficult to score the goals. I was used to scoring 25 goals and even though I scored 15, I found it a lot more difficult.

"I realised how important it was to hold the ball up. I had to be able to hold the ball up so my team could get out and that became just as important."