Few players have come further in football than Aston Villa’s Albert Adomah.
Whilst many of his Villa team-mates came through the ranks training at the world class facilities of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City, his footballing career began at amateur side Old Meadonians.
Whilst studying to become a painter and decorator, his career took off as he moved to join seventh tier club Harrow Borough.
14 goals in 69 games for the London club caught the eye of a host of local non-league and lower league clubs.
Barnet was his eventual destination in January 2008.
Ten years later, and after spells at Bristol City and Middlesbrough, Adomah is taking the Sky Bet Championship by storm.
Discussing his journey to the top with The Boot Room, he revealed that he’s achieved more than he could ever have hoped for as an 18-year-old student playing amateur football at the weekend.
“When I first joined Harrow Borough I had a feeling I would progress to the next level with a hope to one day play at the highest – which is the Premier League and international football and I’ve managed to achieve both of those.
“I wanted to work my way up and I’ve managed to achieve that.”
After play-off heartbreak with Middlesbrough in 2015, Adomah was key to earning his side promotion to the top flight, missing only ten league games across three seasons at the Riverside club.
The winger made his Premier League debut in a draw against Stoke on the opening day of the 2016/17 season under Aitor Karanka, but little did he know that his substitute appearance the following week would be his last for the club.
Summer reinforcements to strengthen the squad to first division quality, after Adomah had helped to get the club left there, and a reported fall out with boss Karanka, left him surplus to requirements.
The now 30-year-old says that he was left with no choice but to leave Tyneside.
“It was time to move on and Aston Villa is a big club with great fans and a lot of history, it felt like a huge opportunity for me.”
By moving to Villa Park, he ensured that he was moving to one of the biggest clubs, if not the biggest, in the English Football League.
Boasting some of the highest attendances in the country, even despite relegation in 2016, there is no denying that the sway of the club has an impact on its players.
“It’s a massive club so when you go out onto the pitch you want to perform well and do well for the club and the main objective of the day is to get the points.”
After years of underperformance, the 2017/18 season finally looks to be putting Aston Villa back on the map with a mid-season revival seeing Steve Bruce’s side climb the table and enter contention for promotion.
For Adomah too, it has been a remarkable season.
“So far on a personal level I think I’ve been doing really well, scoring goals and as a team we have been doing great.
“The result at the weekend didn’t go our way but all we can do is learn from it, work harder and aim to put that right.”
By averaging almost a goal every other game, with 14 from 29 in all competitions, to date, he has already far surpassed his personal best of 12 goals in 42 games with Middlesbrough in 2013/14.
Cutting in from out wide, his positioning, pace, power and smart finishing has been crucial to his team’s success, leading the club’s goalscoring charts, ahead of the likes of multi-million pound centre forwards Scott Hogan and Jonathan Kodjia.
His goals and assists have contributed a huge 18 points to Villa’s fight to return to the top flight, and he is not ready to take the foot off the gas just yet.
Despite now being deployed out wide, Adomah feels that his past experience through the middle has been pivotal to his success.
“I used to be a striker so when I’m in that position I always have a good feeling I’ll get a chance to score – it’s all about hitting the target.
“Lately whenever I shoot it seems to go in.”
Boss Steve Bruce has even called upon the number 37 to beat the Championship record of goals from a player who isn’t a striker, a record currently set at 20 by then-Cardiff ace Peter Whittingham.
With the business end of the season still to come, that certainly looks achievable, but Adomah is taking his campaign one step at a time.
“Every season my target is 10 goals and 10 assists and so far I have exceeded one of my targets, my next aim would be 15 goals and if I can do that I’ll aim for 20 goals but I try not to put pressure on myself.”
It has been some turnaround for Adomah too, considering that he started only one of Villa’s first six games in 2017/18.
The signing of Bruce favourite Ahmed Elmohamady and loan deals for West Ham flop Robert Snodgrass and Tottenham starlet Josh Onomah upped the pressure on an already crowded area of the squad, with the likes of Andre Green and Jack Grealish getting better and better.
Having celebrated his 30th birthday this season, it would be logical that Adomah would be the player to make way. Instead, he has taken a step up.
Age is just a number to one of Villa’s more experienced professionals, who insists that it is hard work on the training ground that is seeing him improve as he matures into the twilight years of his career.
“I work hard at the training ground to improve myself and on the pitch you try to avoid making mistakes but if they do happen you look to the next game to put it right and learn from it.”
Bruce has, understandably, spoken of the importance of keeping players like Adomah, who he has described as “a catalyst”, at the club if they are to be taken seriously in their quest to return to their rightful place in the Premier League.
Promotion put an end to Adomah’s time at Middlesbrough, but he insists that he is happy at Villa and wants to commit his long term future to the club.
“If a 10 year contract was put on the table I would sign that today.
“I’m loving my time at Villa, it’s going really well and things are going well for the team.
“My family love living in the Midlands so if I was offered a contract I would sign it.”
Having only played for four clubs since going professional, having played over 100 games for all four, he is a loyal man, and he is ready to reap the rewards of that loyalty in Birmingham.
“Yes staying at one club definitely helps, I think it helps in the long run and it’s good for your family life.
“For me as an individual, I have a family so it’s good to have them settled in one place.”
His goal in the derby in February, a moment he says he will tell his grandchildren about, endeared him even more to the fans at Villa Park.
The club’s rise up the table is not yet complete, though, and Adomah is insistent that his side must have their sights set high for the remaining three months of the season.
The team are leading the chasing pack behind Wolves and their nearest competitors, Cardiff, but Adomah believes that he and his team-mates must be ready to pounce if either side slips up.
“We just need to keep on doing well and chase Wolves as they are doing great.
“If we chase Wolves we will have a great chance of automatic promotion and if Wolves slip up perhaps we could win the league… But everything is down to our performances.”
With that success, Adomah could return to one of his greatest achievements: playing Premier League football.
Capped 15 times by Ghana, scoring two goals, he also fulfilled the other dream by appearing for his nation, Ghana.
Making his debut in 2011 under Goran Stevanovic, he became a regular under Kwesi Appiah, featuring in all but one game as the Black Eagles finished fourth in the African Cup of Nations in 2013.
Adomah even fulfilled a dream that seemed so impossible on the parks of south London only six years previously by taking to the pitch in the 2014 World Cup as a substitute as Ghana were beaten by the USA.
The versatile wideman has only made one appearance since, scoring in a friendly under Avram Grant in 2015, but with Appiah now back at the helm and Adomah in the form of his life, it would be premature to rule out a return to the international scene.
“It was a great achievement to go away with my national team and play on the biggest stage in the world. I managed to play 15 minutes against America but unfortunately we lost that game but it’s wonderful to say I was part of the World Cup.
“Hopefully if they call me again I can do a duty for them, I will continue to play well for my club and hope that I get a call.”
Adomah’s story is one of football’s most inspiring, and earning promotion to the Premier League with one of England’s biggest clubs as the leading man would be a fitting chapter to add to an already incredible tale.
£20 million target two years ago, Aston Villa should consider Abel Hernandez again
The Uruguayan is out of contract at Hull City this summer.
In the summer of 2016, Aston Villa were in talks to sign Uruguayan striker Abel Hernandez from Hull City.
The £20 million deal looked to be good to go, until it came time to discuss salary, according to a report by the Sun.
It was claimed that Hernandez wanted £70,000-a-week to join Villa and then an increase to £100,000-a-week should Villa win promotion to the Premier League.
Those terms were considered unsatisfactory and Villa pulled the plug.
One year later, Hernandez was again linked with Villa.
Aston Villa chairman Tony Xia soon made it clear that wasn’t happening either. He was quoted by Birmingham Live as stating:
“Never will happen after last summer. Good for us.”
But what about this summer? Should Villa swoop for Hernandez once again?
There are many reasons why the Uruguayan would now be a more logical signing.
Hernandez is out of contract at Hull this summer.
The 27-year-old is therefore available on a free transfer, a massive bargain considering Villa were prepared to pay £20 million just two seasons ago.
Hernandez would also not be able to command such a wage on this occasion.
In 2016 the striker was coming off the back of scoring 22 goals in 45 games for the club and winning promotion to the Premier League.
Since then he has not been as prolific and also battled injury trouble. £70,000-a-week is simply not a possibility.
His best season with Hull actually came under the management of Steve Bruce, which might also help Villa in convincing Hernandez to Villa Park at a lower cost.
This season Hernandez managed just three games before suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon. In those three games, he scored three goals.
If Villa fail to earn promotion this season then there are not many better goalscorers available at this level – never mind on a free transfer.
Since returning to action Hernandez has played three times, scoring three goals – giving him a 100 per cent record of six goals in six games for Hull City this time.
If Villa can come to an understanding over wages, Hernandez would be the perfect summer signing.
Jonathan Kodjia could become an Aston Villa hero
The Ivorian is set to return to first-team action after the international break.
Aston Villa’s automatic promotion hopes have come off the rails in recent weeks. For a while, it seemed Villa were going to upset either Wolves or Cardiff and break into the top two in the Championship. After a run of just one loss and one draw in 12 games, which ended in a 4-1 thrashing of Wolves, it was easy to see why.
Unfortunately, those hopes have come crashing down to earth. Villa have suffered two shock defeats in their last two outings. Firstly there was the 3-1 home reverse to QPR. Last weekend it was the turn of Bolton Wanderers, with Villa losing 1-0 at the Macron Stadium.
The international break could therefore not come at a better time for Aston Villa, who will hope to see some of their regulars return to action after injury.
One such player could be Jonathan Kodjia. The Ivory Coast striker has not played since the 0-0 draw with Birmingham City in October. The 28-year-old is suffering from another ankle injury and has been sorely missed up front.
But it appears he is nearing a return.
Kodjia featured for 45 minutes of a behind-closed-doors friendly against Peterborough United at Bodymoor Heath.
His return to action would be a huge boost for Villa. Whilst Kodjia can be a frustrating figure at times, he is also a top striking option.
Last season Kodjia scored 19 goals in the Championship and his firepower at this level has been sorely missed. With Scott Hogan out of form Lewis Grabban has been handed the burden of finding the net, Kodjia will hope to ease that responsibility.
If he can return to action at Villa Park and score the goals that send them back to the Premier League he will go down in Aston Villa folklore as a hero.
For a man with Kodjia’s character, that is an opportunity he will try to not let pass.
Is Oscar Borg’s Aston Villa career at an end?
The young left-back is out of contract at Aston Villa this summer.
Back in March 2016, Aston Villa snapped up promising left-back Oscar Borg from West Ham United.
According to the Daily Mail, the defender had trials with Manchester United and was highly thought of at West Ham, but he made the move to Villa and was soon making an impact in the reserves.
Recently Aston Villa found themselves short of left-back options.
Neil Taylor was out of action and Alan Hutton was also missing. With Axel Tuanzebe struggling, Villa found themselves short in the position.
But instead of calling on Borg, Steve Bruce called up James Bree, playing out of position at left-back.
It seems Borg may not have been available for Bruce, even if the 20-year-old was set for a first league call-up.
He has not featured for Villa’s under-23s since the 6-1 win v Wolves last month, with Mitchell Clark featuring at left-back instead.
Borg is undoubtedly a top talent at Aston Villa but injuries have been a major problem for him since arriving at Bodymoor Heath.
He spent most of last season on the sidelines and this year needed to be a breakout campaign for the talented full-back.
Borg has played 13 times for Villa’s under-23s this term, as they hunt for success in the Premier League 2, where they are currently second in their section behind Blackburn Rovers.
But, despite being Villa’s only other natural left-footed left-back, bar Taylor, the 20-year-old has made little impact in the first-team.
Borg only signed a two-and-half-year deal when arriving at Villa in 2016 and that contract expires in the summer.
Considering his lack of impact and history of injury problems it will not be a surprise if Borg does not remain a Villain beyond the end of the season.
If he does move on, hopefully, he can remain fit and push toward a professional career elsewhere.
Are Chelsea finally going to see the best of Alvaro Morata?
Sessegnon or Bale? Past or future? Spurs must make right move this summer
Jack Wilshere’s Everton arrival would surely spell the end for Morgan Schneiderlin?
Matthew Pennington’s future looks away from Everton after loan woes
Tieumoue Bakayoko disappoints again for Chelsea against Leicester City
Tottenham Hotspur3 weeks ago
Tottenham Hotspur must push Toby Alderweireld toward Barcelona
Liverpool3 weeks ago
Jurgen Klopp’s brave January decision is playing off thanks to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Liverpool4 weeks ago
Mohamed Salah: Is Liverpool’s Egyptian star the best player in the world right now?
Brentford4 weeks ago
Romaine Sawyers – Blossoming in the Championship with play-off contenders Brentford
English Premier League3 weeks ago
Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle United: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain growing into role under Jurgen Klopp
Chelsea4 days ago
Are Chelsea finally going to see the best of Alvaro Morata?
Liverpool3 weeks ago
Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold finds himself at the centre of Jurgen Klopp’s plans
Arsenal4 weeks ago
Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City: Three talking points from Wembley