Bakı FK midfielder Mindaugas Kalonas has been named Lithuanian player of the year for the first time.
Just eight months after returning to the national team, Kalonas capped his return to form with the award decided upon by fans and experts. Kalonas, who turned 29 in February, has been off the radar for some time after missing almost two years of competitive action while at FC Metalurh Zaporizhya.
However, short spells at Stomil Olsztyn in Poland's second tier and Rävan Bakı FK in Azerbaijan have earned him a return to the national side after a three-year absence. His performances also resulted in a move to Bakı.
Kalonas has scored 13 goals in 26 Azerbaijani Premier League games this year, and was honoured ahead of Leeds United AFC defender Marius Žaliūkas and last season's winner, Gaziantepspor FC goalkeeper Žydrūnas Karčemarskas.
"I didn't expect it, but it was really pleasant to know your work has been appreciated," he said. "After some difficult years, this one was certainly one of the best of my career. The key to achieving my goal was hard work."
FK Sūduva winger Nerijus Valskis, top scorer in this season's Lithuanian First Division with 27 goals, claimed the domestic player of the year award ahead of VMFD Žalgiris playmaker Mantas Kuklys. VfB Stuttgart midfielder Gratas Sirgėdas, meanwhile, was recognised as young player of the year and FK Atlantas's Konstantin Sarsanya as coach of the year.
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