ADRIAN MARIAPPA, the veteran Jamaica defender, has scooped a prestigious Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Men’s Community Champion Award.
The London-born 33-year-old, relegated from the English Premier League (EPL) with Watford in a dramatic final day of the season on July 26, has already won the coveted PFA award in the past.
Mariappa picked up the title again courtesy of the quality and quantity of his engagement with members of the public. This included appearances with the team’s official charity of Watford Community Sports and Education Trust, as well as the club’s initiatives comprising Junior Hornets and Hornets at Home.
The award was a welcome boost as last term’s stop-start EPL season was not his greatest. Having joined the club four years ago, he tested positive for coronavirus in mid-May and will plying his trade in the Championship for the first time in years.
Mariappa came through the youth academy at Watford before signing professional terms for the 2005-06 campaign, and went on to play seven successive seasons with the club – six terms in the Championship and one stint in the EPL – before moving to the top flight with Reading for £3.2m.
Mariappa, who won 49 international caps for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz, played only one season with Reading as he was snapped up by Crystal Palace for £3m. He was released after three campaigns and, after his deal fell through to join Glasgow giants Rangers, rejoined Watford four years ago.
The PFA Community Champion Award aims to raise awareness of the support that PFA members provide to their club’s community activities during the season, with Mariappa rewarded for consistently showcasing the values of Watford.
Watford’s community director Rob Smith said in a statement: “This year this has been as evident as ever, meeting fans of the club of course but also inspiring those that don’t have an affiliation with us through football.
“I’m particularly grateful for their support at our celebration event earlier this year, speaking on stage about their commitment to the community and why supporting the work of the Trust is so important. This trophy was the least we could do to acknowledge the contribution.”
The former captain of the Boyz returns to the Championship but, as many clubs have had their bids rejected for Mariappa over the years, it is not unfathomable that he could be back in the top tier when the new EPL season kicks off in September.