Chesterfield's Tendayi Darikwa has been awarded the npower Football League Young Player of the Month Award for December.

Having graduated from the Chesterfield youth set-up, Darikwa signed his first professional contract with the club in 2010.

The attacking midfielder agreed a three-year contract extension this season and his performances for the Spireites have made him an important member of the first-team squad, already starting 27 games for the club during the current campaign.

Despite a congested December schedule, Darikwa put in a number of stand-out performances, bringing some festive cheer to Chesterfield supporters by helping the team to wins over Port Vale and York City, scoring two goals in the process.

On winning the award, 21-year-old Darikwa said: "It has been a great season for me personally. I'm a hard-worker and believe if you do that then you will get your rewards, but this season has gone well for me.

"I have only ever wanted to be involved in football and I am very thankful to Chesterfield for giving me a chance.

"Personally, I feel like I am doing well and confident in every game, I think it is showing in my performances.

"For me, this is a dream come true and I will just keep working hard to get to highest level I can, which is obviously the Premier League."

Chesterfield manager Paul Cook added: "It is great for Tendayi and for the club, publicity like that is great for the club - a great credit for everyone connected with his career.

"The more homegrown players we get moving on to better things- we all want to see that, it is a huge pat on the back.

"He is a terrific young talented boy and he wants to improve - they must want that, a lot of lads take things for granted, but Tendayi will only get better - he is a very good footballer today and is going to have a very good career."

Tendayi Darikwa

Each season, Football League clubs invest more than £40m on identifying, training and educating the next generation of football talent. Around a third of this money (£12.6m) is provided by the Football Association and Premier League.

There are 8,700 young players registered with League clubs making Football League Youth Development the largest centrally co-ordinated young player programme in world football. In the 2012/13 season to date, 179 players aged 21 or under have made their professional debuts for Football League clubs.

David Wetherall, Head of Youth Development at The Football League, said: "Tendayi looks to be a real talent and he has shown this with a number of fantastic performances this season.

"He has made real progress since breaking into the senior team and this award is testament to his development, he has certainly caught my eye this season and I look forward to watching him progress at the club."

Each month the accolade will be awarded by The Football League to the young player who has made the most significant contribution and impact in first team football. To be eligible the player must be either under 21 years of age or be playing in the season during which he turns 21.

To read Paul Fletcher's interview with Tendayi Darikwa on the BBC Sport website please click here

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