The below is a modified version of the exclusive interview Oriol Romeu gave SAINTS, our official matchday magazine, for the visit of Arsenal.
The traditional proverb dictates that nice guys tend to finish last, though Oriol Romeu turned that on its head this season.
The Spanish juggernaut had an outstanding season in the centre of midfield for Saints and was rightly awarded Player of the Season by both players and fans alike.
A double recognition that the 25-year-old finds extremely humbling.
“It’s very nice to receive all of this love and support,” explained Romeu.
“To have it from the fans, the players and from everyone around the club makes it very special. It’s an amazing honour for me.
“I really couldn’t be any, not just any happier, but any prouder of being here. Everything has been so good and having these awards allows me to put it on paper and show just how happy I am here.”
Being named Players’ Player of the Season of course strikes an extra-special chord with all professional footballers.
That positive peer acknowledgment is deemed the pinnacle by many, though for Romeu it was ‘extra special’ that the fans had seen fit to acknowledge his efforts.
“The fans see the way we play and how we try to stand up every weekend,” he continued.
“So it’s amazing to also get this feeling and recognition from them. That they have seen my work and want to reward me. Both awards are amazing for me – the players’ player also means a lot.
“They see how you behave every day and how you train every day. So it’s so good to see that they have rewarded that and thought of me to get this award.
“Without my teammates I wouldn’t have played good football. They help you to cover more spaces, they help you to play better and they give you more solutions – without them I would be no one.
“I am very grateful to have the players around that I have, I really am. I really enjoy training with them every day and playing with them.”
WITHOUT MY TEAMMATES I WOULDN'T HAVE PLAYED GOOD FOOTBALL... WITHOUT THEM I WOULD BE NO ONE.ORIOL ROMEU
Romeu completed the season with 46 games to his name, 43 of which were starts, and an impressive 84% completion rate on the 2,500 plus passes he made.
Those stats tell the full story: the former Barcelona youngster has been a consistent figure in the heart of Claude Puel’s side.
And he credits a consistent level of playing time at St Mary’s as one of the key reasons behind his exceptional form.
“The main reason is feeling comfortable and confident,” he starts.
“That then helps you to try new things and push yourself to get better week by week. After that work is put in place, the results will come.
“Putting all of these things together I think has certainly helped to increase my level and my football game, so it’s so good, so nice and so enjoyable.
“But it doesn’t stop, it carries on now. There is more to come, from both the club and me. There will be better games and more happy days to enjoy.”
Thanks to Romeu and his teammates’ efforts, Saints fans enjoyed many happy, unforgettable days throughout this season.
The EFL Cup final and the comeback victory over Inter Milan spring to mind straight away.
And Romeu man makes no hesitation when pressed for his personal highlight of the campaign: that Shane Long winner at Anfield.
“That feeling was one of the best feelings I have ever had in football,” he glows.
“It was a corner kick going towards the near post - it was Firmino and me going for the first ball and I was able to deflect it away, I think to Prowsey.
“He then passed to Josh Sims who made an amazing run for half of the pitch and was going through defenders before putting the ball in the perfect way to Shane, who took two touches to finish it off.
“Seeing that all happen was incredible and it was amazing to win at such a nice and historical stadium, especially in the way that we did: playing as a team and being a solid unit together.
“Going to Wembley was something we wanted – we had dreamed a lot, and the dream came true. It was one of the nicest experiences we have all had together.”
The south coast invasion of the capital then provided another ‘crazy feeling’ when Manolo Gabbiadini swivelled and fired in his equaliser in front of the 32,356 travelling Saints fans.
And despite the end result, Romeu believes the team spirit shown and the support from the fans that day will ‘remain unforgettable’ for the whole squad.
The Spaniard certainly views the EFL Cup final as a comma rather than a full stop in the Southampton history books.
The same, too, he explains can be said of the Europa League campaign.
“The team played some crucial games in that group stage,” he picks up.
“I think, of course, that gave all of us some added experience. This team and this club is growing and getting better, and that will help in the future.
“The people that keep coming into this squad and this club are young people with a lot to give - that is important.
“That is what we need to do to keep going and keep improving in the future. Hopefully more happy days will come and there are more things for us all to achieve together.”