Bent: Much more to come

Darren Bent says he sees the success he has enjoyed at Sunderland so far as only the start for him.

The England striker was this week named the North East's Player of the Year by the region's Football Writers' Association.

And Bent has promised fans that having worked so hard over the last year to prove his worth, he won't be easing up now.

"I'm delighted and honoured to be named player of the year by the North East Football Writers' Association," he said.

"Since I came to the region, it's an award I've been banging on about winning fairly constantly and I'm really pleased that it's happened.

"It was really nice to win Sunderland's player of the year award and to win this one, too, is very special.

"It's a double bonus for me.

"I worked really hard last season to get back to where I wanted to be and this feels like a big reward.

"My dad is always saying to me 'you only get out of life what you put in' and I've worked night and day over the last year and more to try and get myself back up there again.

"I'd like to thank Sunderland – the supporters, the players and all the staff – for that, for making sure that I wasn't forgotten about, for helping me get back into the England squad.

"I promise them that I won't stop working."

Bent's latest award puts him among some of the elite names of North East football down the decades and Bent admitted: "There have been some brilliant players and top strikers who have won this in the past and to be in the same company as the likes of Kevin Phillips, Niall Quinn and Alan Shearer is very humbling.

"When I first moved to the North East, it wasn't about wanting to win personal awards or anything like that.

"It was far more basic.

"It was about getting my career back on track, playing regularly and scoring goals, but I know just how much the people up here love their goalscorers and to feel like I'm part of that fine tradition is brilliant.

"I may not be a local, but I feel like one now, to be honest.

"I've always known about the passion of the area and that was one of the main reasons why I wanted to come up here so badly. I can relate to it and I've fed off it.

"It's been a fantastic experience.

"Whichever of the clubs they support, the people love their football with a passion, the area's really nice, and I hope I've shown that I've completely embraced it.

"Hopefully, I'll be doing that for many more years to come."