The Rise of Ollie Watkins
On This Day 4 Years Ago Ollie Watkins was playing for Exeter vs Yeovil in a 3-3 draw in League Two, a match which he didn't score in, but yesterday he just made his England debut in a 5-0 win against San Marino, a win, and a debut in which he scored in.
The rise of Ollie Watkins has been rapid over the past few years, the move to Striker, at Brentford by Thomas Frank, took him to a new level, a level that he knew he had in him, and so did everyone else at the Club, with Dean Smith recently saying "I always knew he could play up front" of course, after his 26 goal season as the lone striker at the Bees, he was targeted by former boss Dean Smith, in a £33m move. He has since gone from strength to strength scoring 10 Premier League goals and being Villa's main focal point up top. He has been praised by fans for his hold up play and his overall team-play and that is why he got the nod over Patrick Bamford with Gareth Southgate impressed with his work ethic.
I think the main reason this is the case is because of the rise up the leagues, the grafting for Weston-Super-Mare and the fact he used to be more of a wide player in his earlier years, means he has more of an understanding of the game and is more than just a goal scorer, Another reason why Watkins has made so much progress is because of the high standards he sets himself, if he misses a chance, he beats himself up, I always go back to the post-match interview with Ollie in the 7-2 thrashing of the Champions, he said "I should have had 4/5 if I'm honest" referring to the two missed chances in the game.
When you have those high standards I believe there will always be success to follow, and I think his work-ethic and attitude will rub off on every club he'll play for, Exeter City's president Julian Tagg has recently stated that "The fans still sing 'he's one of our own'. They loved Ollie and he loved being here," It wouldn't surprise me to hear a similar quote if he ever left Villa. In an interview done by BBC Sport with current Exeter CIty Manager Matt Taylor, who was the U23 coach when Watkins left Exeter in 2017, he was quoted saying:
"I got to witness him in training every day, and in terms of the young players at the club there's no better example,"
"He spent a lot of time in the gym, because young players have to get themselves up to a certain level physically.
"But he trained properly, and you can always see the ones that go onto the highest level.
Training properly and working hard has always been something Watkins has done and it has stood him in good stead and will continue to do so, at Villa/England and whatever happens in the future of his career, but for now, Villa are lucky to have such a genuine, down to earth person, who always gives 110% for the shirt, whilst being a terrific role model.