PORT Augusta soccer superstar Jayden Upton is kicking goals in Adelaide, collecting the Len Alagich Award for the State League One Reserves Player of the Year.
After a stellar season with Port Adelaide Pirates, Upton was presented with the award at the 2017 Celebration of Football – the Football Federation of South Australia’s night of nights – on Saturday, October 7.
It was the second accolade for Upton in just his first season with Pirates after clinching the club’s Golden Boot Award with eight goals.
The right winger’s award-laden season is even more impressive when considering he missed more than a quarter of the campaign through injury.
Upton said he was “so surprised” to be named the best player in the league.
“When I was invited to the Awards Night, I was expecting to only come fourth or fifth,” the 20-year-old said.
“I was just looking to have a good night, but I was so happy to win.”
Upton moved to Pirates after four seasons with Port Pirie-based club Northern Demons, while also becoming a student athlete at the Australian College of Sport. He is part of the College’s soccer program, learning from former Adelaide United player Michael Matricciani and ex-Newcastle Jets coach Phil Stubbins.
The Port Augusta Secondary School graduate said being involved in the program has really improved his game.
“It’s really about intelligence and it helps a lot because I’ve been getting in better positions and it has really opened up my game,” Upton said.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better. They help you think outside the box and I’ve absolutely loved it.”
Through the College, Upton has received diplomas in Leadership and Management, Sports Development, and Sports Recreation and Management.
Upton hopes to back up his breakthrough season by earning a place in Pirates’ A Grade side in 2018.