Milton Keynes Council is to confer its highest ceremonial honour on MK Dons’ boss Pete Winkelman later in the year.
In total the Freedom of the Borough has been granted four times previously in Milton Keynes – on the last occasion to the Infiniti Red Bull Racing team, in March 2014.
Mr Winkelman - along with his family, friends and colleagues - will be guest of honour at a special meeting at the Civic Offices on November 12th.
Milton Keynes Mayor, Cllr Keith McLean, said: “When I first met Pete I thought he was like a bottle of fizzy pop – brimming with ideas and enthusiasm.
“Four years later that first impression has proved absolutely right and he still uses that tireless energy to bring so many positive things to Milton Keynes.”
Council Leader Pete Marland said: “It’s difficult to quantify just how much Pete Winkelman has done to put Milton Keynes on the map.
“Describing him as a local legend seems like a massive understatement – he really is up there with the likes of the late Jim Marshall and Dame Cleo Laine, both of whom were also awarded the Freedom of the Borough.
“It goes beyond simply the work he has done with the MK Dons - he embodies the spirit of Milton Keynes like few others and cares deeply about our City.”
Mr Winkelman said: “I am totally overwhelmed to be conferred with this honour. There is something very special in being recognised by your local community and I will be forever grateful that the Council has bestowed on me the Freedom of the Borough. It is particularly special considering who the other recipients have been and, in particular, Jim Marshall who did so much to support me - particularly in the early days of our adventure.
“Bringing football to Milton Keynes was about bringing opportunities for the whole community and I could only have done that in partnership with the many agencies, organisations and individuals who have supported this journey. The Council has been outstanding in this respect and I would like to thank them for their support that has been vital in helping us deliver the first 10 years of the club and I know that we can count on them as we move forward to, hopefully, greater things in the future.
“However, none of this can be possible without the support of our fans and the people of Milton Keynes that contribute so much to making our city something that we can all be proud about.”
Tributes were also paid by the other group leaders, Cllrs Edith Bald (Conservative) and Douglas McCall (Liberal Democrat).
Cllr Bald said: “I am absolutely delighted about this award for Pete. He is one of Milton Keynes’ greatest ambassadors and I would like to say 'thank you Pete for everything you have done for MK and we look forward with great excitement for the things yet to come!'"
Cllr McCall added: “I have known Pete Winkelman for about 13 years. He has worked very hard to bring league football to Milton Keynes and now we have a Championship side. He is a great ambassador for the city. If you were to personify the 'can do' attitude of Milton Keynes it would be Pete. He really deserves the highest honour MK can bestow.”
The council has on only granted the Freedom of the Borough on four previous occasions, with the honour being conferred upon:
• The Right Honourable The Lord Campbell of Eskan, the former Chairman of Milton Keynes Development Corporation, on 18 March, 1982;
• Dr James Charles Marshall OBE, on March 19th 2009;
• Dame Cleo Laine, on March 31st 2011; and
• Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team on March 20th 2014
The council also conferred, on November 25th1998, the honour of Freedom of Entry into the Borough on The Royal Green Jackets (now known as The Rifles Regiment), which allows the Regiment to march through the streets of the Borough in full ceremonial, which includes the Regiment’s band and bugles playing.