Josh Cullen: EFL Young Player award for Bradford's on-loan West Ham midfielder

Josh Cullen and Stuart McCall
Josh Cullen receives his EFL Young Player of the Month award from Bradford manager Stuart McCall
Sky Bet League One play-off final - Bradford v Millwall
Date: Saturday, 20 May Kick-off: 15:00 BST Venue: Wembley Stadium
Coverage: BBC Radio 5 live, BBC local radio; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app from 14:00 BST

You know as a footballer that the fans have taken to you when you get your own chant, but Bradford City's on-loan midfielder Josh Cullen has a pretty unique one.

Sung to the tune of "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus, the 21-year-old is compared favourably to France legend Zinedine Zidane in the chorus by the Bantams faithful.

His form has not just been noticed on the terraces, as the Republic of Ireland Under-21 man has won the EFL's Young Player of the Month award for April.

"It's nice to hear that from the stands, but the main thing is the result and playing for the team," Cullen, who is on loan at Bradford from West Ham, told BBC Sport.

"It's another one you dream of, a bit of a surreal feeling as a young player hearing it.

"It is a good feeling but I think you've got to try to blank that out as much as possible - obviously you appreciate the support, but when it comes to business you focus about what is happening on the pitch.

"It's obviously a bit far to say I'm better than Zidane, but it's a good feeling to have that support from the fans and I can only say thank you to them."

After joining Bradford on loan towards the end of last season, Cullen has spent the whole of 2016-17 with the League One club.

Southend-born Cullen has played 45 times, including scoring his first, and only so far, professional goal against MK Dons.

Josh Cullen
Cullen featured against Champions League finalists Juventus for West Ham during pre-season in the first game at London Stadium

"I can't thank everyone at the club and the surrounding area enough to make me feel welcome and making sure that everything is OK with me on and off the pitch," he added.

"It's the first time I've been away from home for a long period of time and it's been brilliant."

His final appearance for Bradford before returning to the Premier League club for pre-season will be the League One play-off final against Millwall at Wembley on Saturday.

The Bantams, who lost at the the semi-final stage to the Lions last season, are looking to return to second-tier football for the first time since 2004.

"It would be silly of me to say this is not a massive game - probably one of the biggest in my career to date," he said.

"I'm looking forward to the occasion without getting too carried away - you've got the play the game and treat it as a normal game. If we do that, hopefully we won't go too far wrong.

"When you're a young lad running around in the garden it's one of the stadiums you dream of playing at. It's the first time I've played there and hopefully the first of a few times."

Josh Cullen
Cullen started 40 of Bradford's 46 League One games this season

Cullen made his debut for West Ham against FC Lusitans in the Europa League in July 2015 and made four outings for the Hammers, including one substitute appearance in the Premier League.

He played for England's youth teams growing up, but switched his allegiance to Republic of Ireland and has featured for their Under-18, Under-19 and Under-21 sides.

The boyhood West Ham fan wants to make his mark at his parent club, but would not rule out a return to West Yorkshire.

"At the minute my main focus is to get into the West Ham first team - that is what the whole loan has been about," added Cullen.

"The main goal for me, and my dream growing up, is to play for West Ham and that is still what I'm striving to achieve."

Previous EFL Young Player of the Month winners

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