Former striker Josh Maja recently returned to Sunderland to thank the club's staff for their support.
The 20-year-old joined French side Bordeaux on a four-and-a-half-year deal last month, after scoring 16 goals in 30 appearances for the Black Cats this season.
Maja earned plenty of plaudits on Wearside and was named the North East Football Writers’ Association Young Player of the Year for 2018 at Sunday night's annual awards dinner.
Sunderland boss Jack Ross collected the award on the striker's behalf and praised Maja for his actions both on and off the pitch.
"I think that in modern football there's a lot of hysteria that's created in comment which is unfounded at times and without good substance," said Ross.
"Josh was not only a tremendously talented young player but was a very humble young man.
"That was shown by the fact he returned to the club a couple of weeks ago, left gifts, not just for myself and the coaching staff but for a lot of the people around the club, handwritten cards thanking them for the support they've given him and allowing him to progress his career.
"That example of how a young man conducts himself is something people don't often get to see."
Maja turned down a new contract offer from Sunderland before joining Bordeaux for a reported £3.5million fee.
Yet Ross didn't begrudge Maja's decision and doesn't believe he should be criticised for wanting to move on.
"It's just reflective of personalty," added Ross when asked about Maja's gesture on his return to Sunderland.
"I worked with him for eight months and in that time he was fantastic not only on the pitch but also the way he conducted himself off the pitch.
"His willingness and desire to improve and get better every day was terrific.
"He's made a lifestyle choice and a career choice and I don't think anybody should criticise him for that."