RYAN Leonard has been voted Southend United’s player of the decade.

The energetic midfielder received 48 per cent of the votes to finish ahead of second-placed Adam Barrett and Daniel Bentley in third.

And Leonard – who made 265 appearances for Blues – was delighted to pick up the prize.

“It’s lovely to have got this and to be recognised by the Southend fans for my time there,” said Leonard, who is now with Millwall.

“I was there for seven years and it was a really enjoyable experience.

“I’d like to say thank you to everyone who voted for me and it’s a real honour to have got this.”

Leonard joined the Shrimpers in 2011 after being released by Plymouth Argyle.

And he went on to enjoy a number of memorable moments while at Roots Hall.

“Obviously Wembley and the second leg of the semi-final is right up there too,” said Leonard.

“Getting to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final when Ben Reeves scored right at the end and beating Colchester home and away was great too.

“We had a packed house and it was a great experience but I have so many great memories there.

“My dad said I came as a boy and left as a man which is a bit of a cliché but I came on trial and did well and the rest is history really.

“We got promoted and that was the biggest achievement of the lot but it was just a great time and I’ll never forget it.

“Even now I still think of certain games and moments and it brings back happy memories.”

But it was the team spirit which made it extra special for the central midfielder.

“From Paul Sturrock to Phil Brown we always had a brilliant group of lads,” said Leonard.

“That was always the biggest thing and that’s what got us promoted.

“I’ve met some of the best friends in my life through being at Southend and it was a great time.

“It was a successful time too.”

But, despite leaving in 2018, Leonard still attends Blues matches when he can.

“I still live in the area with my missus and we’ve got a little one now too,” said Leonard.

“I still come to a few of the games whenever I get a chance and I just love the club.

“I love the people there too and it’s like a second family to me really.

“I’ll always keep an eye out for the results and I pray they start to get some better ones soon.”