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Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Monday, 21 March 2011

Crewe boss Dario Gradi honoured by Football League

Dario Gradi
Gradi's side currently lie four points off a League Two play-off spot

Crewe manager Dario Gradi has been awarded the Contribution to League Football prize at the 2011 Football League awards.

The 69-year-old received the award from Football League chairman Greg Clarke, while former Crewe players Danny Murphy and David Platt paid tribute to him.

"I certainly didn't expect this award but it is lovely to get such an honour," Gradi told BBC Radio Stoke.

Gradi joined Crewe in 1983, and has been in charge for over 1500 games.

"Danny's tribute made me feel quite emotional and I was surprised with the reception that I got when I went on stage," added Gradi.

"It has been great to develop the academy at Crewe. I am a coach, I enjoy the challenge of working with footballers and then seeing the finished product. It is called the 'lifetime' award, well it has been a strange night but I have thoroughly enjoyed it."

Gradi's award was the last one given at the end of Sunday's awards dinner in London.

"The highest award the Football League can bestow goes to a man that has dedicated his life to coaching and the pursuit of excellence," said Clarke.

"He has served his club for the last 28 years, transforming its fortunes from perpetual strugglers to a club that sets the benchmark others aspire to.

"He is famed for his outstanding work in developing young footballers and for producing teams renowned for their stylish, passing football alongside a commitment to fair play that has seen the club win fair play awards in 14 of the last 17 seasons.

"It is little wonder that he and his club are so admired across the wider football community."

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