Sunderland stars Jermain Defoe and Jordan Pickford the big winners at player of the year ceremony

Jermain Defoe celebrates his goal against Hull City
Jermain Defoe celebrates his goal against Hull City
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Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe has been named the player of the year.

The 34-year-old striker has scored 15 goals for relegated Sunderland this season and his form for the Black Cats won him an England recall earlier this year, with Defoe scoring against Lithuania on his return to the national team.

Defoe scored against Hull City at the weekend to end a goal drought stretching back to February. The striker is available on a free this summer as a result of a clause in his contract following Sunderland's relegation.

Meanwhile, Washington-born goalkeeper Jordan Pickford collected the young player of the year award at the ceremony at the Stadium of Light.

Pickford, 23, has broken into the Sunderland first team this season and was drafted into the England squad this season as a result of his stunning form for Sunderland this campaign.

In-demand Pickford is attracting interest from a host of top Premier League clubs.

Young player of the year Jordan Pickford

Young player of the year Jordan Pickford

More than 300 supporters from branches set up across the north east and elsewhere attended the annual event, attended by the first team while Kevin Ball, Gary Bennett and Richie Pitt were among some of the former players to take part in a Q&A for fans after the awards.

Defoe said: "It’s really special to be voted for by the fans and everyone knows what a special relationship I have with them, so I’m really thankful to everyone for voting for me again."

Pickford added: "It feels really good, especially if you look at the list of young players that have won this award and what they’ve gone on to do – it just shows hard work pays off.

"Hearing the fans sing my name through this season has been really great too, and it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when they’re shouting your name week in, week out.

"So without doubt, it’s a massive privilege for myself and my family to receive this from the fans."

Elsewhere, Danielle Brown was named by fans as their Ladies Young Player of Year and centre back Hayley Sharp was recognised by supporters as the Ladies Player of the Year.