Players sent out on loan are usually focused on development rather than personal glory, but in rare situations a player can accomplish the latter by virtue of the former. For Fabio Borini, a year spent in the north east of England has done wonders for his progress and his loanee club Sunderland saw fit to honour him with their Young Player of the Year award.
Borini took to Twitter to thank the Sunderland fans who voted for him:
Thanks so much to everyone who voted me the "young @SAFCofficial player of the year" award. Was such an honour and great to meet everyone 😃👍— fabio borini (@borinifabio29) April 22, 2014
It's a nice honour for a player who isn't even with the club on a permanent basis, but it's hard to ignore the importance of some of his goals for the Black Cats this season. Borini has scored seven goals across all competitions this season, but each one has been pivotal in its own way.
In his first experience of the Tyne-Wear derby, Borini notched Sunderland's winning goal, which isn't a bad way to endear yourself to your new club only a few months into your loan spell.
Chelsea had gone ahead 1-0 thanks to a Lee Cattermole own goal, but in the 88th minute Borini clawed one back to tie up the game and send the match into extra time. Teammate Ki Sung-Yueng secured the winner in the 118th minute, and so began Fabio Borini's haunting of Chelsea FC.
A Ryan Giggs own goal and a legitimate goal from Nemanja Vidic on either side of halftime had the game drawn until a penalty fired home by Borini in the 64th minute secured their advancement to the next round of the League Cup.
Down 2-0 after a half hour, not a minute after the second goal Borini got Sunderland back into the game that they went on to draw after Adam Johnson equalised in the 71st minute.
Another derby, another goal, only this time it was the first and ultimately the game winning goal in a 3-0 rout at their rival's home ground.
Having defeated both Chelsea and Manchester United to arrive in the cup final, Borini's goal in the 10th minute gave hope to Sunderland fans as they held the lead at the end of forty-five minutes. Alas, a trio of City goals in the second half changed the course of Sunderland's fate, but for one glorious half it looked like Borini had scored a cup winner.
Still fresh in everyone's mind, Borini's winner against Chelsea proved to be the ultimate way for the striker to write himself into the story of Liverpool's title-challenging season despite the fact that he spent the entire year on loan elsewhere.
With a few exceptions, Borini's goals have either earned his club all three points or advancement to the next round of a cup competition, and when they haven't they've been goals of the type his teammates can rally around to stage a comeback. Sunderland have gone on to win but for one draw and one loss in games where Borini has scored, and that the loss came in the League Cup final to Man City shouldn't reflect too poorly on Sunderland or the striker.
The fight to avoid relegation is incredibly tight at the bottom, with Sunderland being a mere three points off from being out of the relegation zone. There may be little more to be done at this point, but considering that Borini's winning goals have earned them at least nine of their twenty-nine points this season, Sunderland could be in a far worse position. It's clear that both fans and the club have found incredible value in his contributions this season. Congratulations, Fabio!