JAMIE TURLEY was left gobsmacked after scooping an England gong from his boyhood hero.
The 22-year-old insisted picking up the England C Player of the Year accolade from former Arsenal and England defender was a ‘surreal’ moment.
Turley, who was due to captain England C tonight, (Tuesday) against Turkey, said: " I am an Arsenal fan and Sol is a hero of mine. As a youngster I had posters on the wall of him in his England kit, but to meet him and be given the award was a surreal moment."
The Forest Green defender rubbed shoulders with the elite of world football at the FA’s inaugural event at St George’s Park, where he mixed it with Liverpool legend Steve Gerrard, who was crowned as England Men's Player of the Year, England boss Roy Hodgson and football luminary Sir Bobby Charlton.
He added: "I spoke to Roy Hodgson and smiled at Bobby Charlton. The whole evening was amazing and I couldn’t believe it when my name was called. I was glad I didn’t have to make a speech and Sol said ‘well done’ when I met him."
England C boss Paul Fairclough escorted Turley to the gala and despite knowing the result, he kept the news from the former Wycombe and Salisbury City player.
"Paul did well to keep it from me, but I thought I was in with a chance by the fact that Forest Green team-mate Kieron Forbes and Hyde’s Scott Spencer - the other nominees -weren’t at the evening."
Rovers manager David Hockaday feels Turley’s award is a credit to the player and his club.
He said: "I'm absolutely chuffed to bits for him, it's an absolutely amazing recognition for Jamie and also an honour for Forest Green Rovers.
"He's also captaining England C against Turkey, we've got three in the team and another three on the shadow squad. FGR are making so many steps forward. I think people sometimes forget how far we've come - where we were not too long ago and where we are now."
Turley feels Forest Green’s close-knit squad are now well-placed for promotion ahead of a tough clash at rivals Luton Town on Saturday.
He said: "We want to play in League Two and feel we’re moving in the right direction, but we will take each game as it comes."