Luton sports legend and former Olympic pentathlete Greg Whyte, 46, has received many accolades in his time.
But being awarded the OBE in the New Year Honours list tops them all.
“It’s absolutely amazing, fabulous,” he said. “What a start to the year - the mighty Hatters top of the league and me with an OBE. You can’t get much better than that.”
And the former Ashcroft High pupil paid tribute to his home town for his success. He said: “It’s partly thanks to Luton, where I grew up and learned my trade.
“I’m always delighted to come back, I’m still a season ticket holder and regularly go to the match with my dad.”
The father-of-three heard about his gong a month ago and was sworn to secrecy. But he’s been inundated with Tweets and Facebook messages since the announcement.
He said: “It’s not something you can engineer or work towards. And because you’re nominated by your peers, it gives you such a warm feeling. It’s recognition for what you do.”
> There was a damehood for former Barnfield West Academy headteacher Rachel de Souza for services to education and an OBE for Shirley Anne Crosbie of Caddington’s Chiltern School for services to children with special needs.