Dundee Player of the Year Paul McGowan epitomises everything fans want see in a player according to Dens boss James McPake.
The Dark Blues gaffer was full of praise for his former team-mate after the crafty midfielder was awarded the prize for 2019/20 – in his sixth season at the club.
McGowan, often a contender for the Andrew De Vries trophy, joins Scott Bain, Kane Hemmings, Nathan Ralph, Cammy Kerr and Glen Kamara among others on the winners list after just edging out Jordan McGhee in the voting among fans.
And McPake insists the honour is more than deserved.
He told Tele Sport: “Paul McGowan has been consistent for six seasons now and very rarely gets injured.
“Over 200 games and it’s not just that, it’s what you get from him in training.
“People will see him from the stand and you see the demands he puts on his team-mates, he’s like that in training and was like that when I played with him.
“He is an absolute joy to coach because he’s still, even now, wanting to learn.
“Under every manager he has played to a very high standard, he’s a real winner and I am surprised he hadn’t won the award before but there has been real quality at the club and Gowser has been there or thereabouts for the awards.”
He added: “He’s a fan’s favourite because of the way he applies himself in every game, they see probably a bit of themselves, the passionate fan in Paul McGowan.
“Screaming at his team-mates to be better, to raise the tempo, to do things differently – fans maybe see a bit of him in them.
“They have the passion and desire to do well for the club and he epitomises that. I think that’s why they took to him right away.
“I am delighted for him, he’s still very fit and he’ll be looking to add to the games he has played for this football club.
“I know he still believes there is a lot more football in Paul McGowan and I think he’s had another excellent season.”
The duo arrived at Dens as players in the summer of 2014 and became fast friends, driving up to Dundee from Glasgow every day.
Now McGowan’s boss, McPake admits their relationship has changed somewhat from the days when he’d be on the receiving end of a regular verbal volley on the park.
“If there were three people around him then he would still take the ball,” McPake added.
“That’s brave –people talk about centre-backs being brave because they’ll put their head where it hurts but Paul McGowan is brave because he’ll take the ball in tight spaces and work something.
“He very rarely loses the ball, gets you fouls and there is a respect from other teams to him. I’ve found that as a manager, the amount of times I heard ‘McGowan’s a good player’ from other managers last season.
“He was great to play with, he would always take it – he could be a pain when you didn’t give him it and the game is going on up the pitch but he’s still standing trying to argue with you!
“That’s Gowser. But there’s more than a screamer or a shouter – he encourages people, he helps people out and he’s honest. He’s the first to put his hand up when he believes he’s done something wrong and that’s gone in the modern game. He sets such high standards.
“He’s a voice in the dressing-room as well. I’ve played with him but it’s a completely different relationship now.
“I was his team-mate and his mate but now we don’t see much of each other apart from on the training ground. The dynamics have changed but I know exactly what I’ll get from him whenever he’s on the pitch.
“There have been a few times when I’ve thought ‘I’m glad I’ve got Paul McGowan’. Even if he’s not played you might think there will be a problem, not playing against United or Aberdeen, but he just accepts it and goes and trains.
“There’s no sulking and is great to work with. He was great to play with because he’s such a quality footballer and I’m glad I have him at my disposal as a manager. He’s a leader for our club.”