Stephen Ireland has been paid the ultimate compliment by his fellow professionals of being nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year Award.
His inclusion on a six-strong shortlist for the coveted prize is recognition of the gifted 22-year-old Blues midfielder's tremendous season both in the Barclays Premier League and the UEFA Cup campaign.
In-form Stevie's superb vision, tireless running and precision passing have been enhanced by 12 goals so far, including one in the first leg in Hamburg last Thursday night followed by another against Fulham on Sunday.
He faces tough competition from fellow nominees Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), Gaby Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Ashley Young (Aston Villa), Jonny Evans (Manchester United) and Rafael (Manchester United).
The last Blues star to be named PFA Young Player of the Year was winger Peter Barnes in 1976.
Shaun Wright-Phillips said: "Stevie's an outstanding player and he's done well in all his games this season. We all knew his ability here, but he's showed everybody else what he's capable of. He's remarkable in my eyes."
PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor said: "Even though he’s surrounded by superstar names, he has been the club’s most consistent performer throughout the season – as Mark Hughes has said on a number of occasions.
"City have the money to go out and buy virtually any player in the world, but Ireland remains a first-choice pick for the City manager. Sometimes, it only takes five minutes of watching a new player to see whether he has a football brain – and that was the case with Stephen."