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.
Aston Villa must target these three loan signing before the window closes
The Championship outfit are still in the market for new additions before the loan window closes.
Aston Villa had looked to be heading into the 2018/19 campaign under strict financial implications but new ownership at the club has offered a new lease of life.
With new recruits hard to come by during the summer, boss Steve Bruce will now look to make some additions to his squad before the loan window slams shut at the end of the month.
The squad at Bruce’s disposal is still a decent one as far as the Championship goes and the Villains are still expected to be among the frontrunners for a promotion place come the end of the season.
The Boot Room looked at three players who would make quality loan additions between now and the end of the window…
It was Villa talisman Jonathan Kodjia who got the nod to start in attack in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Ipswich Town, but with the Ivory Coast international only recently back from a serious injury, the club might look towards attacking reinforcements.
Abraham appears to be down the pecking order at Chelsea and, although it might take a hefty loan fee to secure his services, his quality at Championship level is there for all to see.
The 20-year-old only netted five goals on loan at Swansea City last season, but his 23 goals on loan at Bristol City during the 2016/17 campaign should excite the Villa faithful, if a loan deal can be struck.
The 21-year-old was on loan at Fulham last season and his four goals in 21 appearances helped the Cottages reach the play-off final – where they defeated Aston Villa.
Ojo’s ability to play on either wing would make him a solid addition to the Villa squad and his pace would petrify Championship defenders.
Although Snodgrass has featured in both of West Ham United’s top-flight games so far this term, there is still a small possibility that he could be loaned out if the right deal comes in.
The Scotsman and Aston Villa were a superb fit for each other last season and the 30-year-old scored eight goals and claimed 13 assists, adhering himself to the Villa faithful in the process.
Snodgrass is a superb player at Championship level and if Bruce can secure another temporary deal for the versatile attacker, the Villains would have every chance of an automatic promotion push.
Aston Villa look to have dodged bullet after Toni Leistner’s horror show v West Brom
Aston Villa were keen on the German this summer.
QPR addressed their centre-back shortage this summer by bringing in German defender Toni Leistner. It looked like a bargain. He joined the club on a free transfer from FC Union Berlin, where he had established himself as a top defender with a great reputation in the German lower leagues.
They were, however, not the only club interested in the player this summer. Aston Villa were also said to be keen on signing the player according to the Berliner Kurier.
In the end, Leistner headed to London. However, based on Leistner’s performance against Aston Villa’s rivals West Brom this weekend, it seems Steve Bruce has dodged a bullet.
The German was torn apart by the Baggies attacking prowess of Jay Rodriguez, Matty Phillips and Dwight Gayle.
He looked absolutely lost against the West Brom attack as QPR were put to the sword in a stunning 7-1 win from Darren Moore’s side.
Aston Villa looked like they were going to need to bring in centre-backs this season. With the departure of John Terry and Chris Samba you could still argue it is an area where Aston Villa are short.
However, Leistner does not look like he would have been the answer.
Aston Villa’s Jed Steer treatment now looks even more baffling
Aston Villa allowed Jed Steer to join Charlton Athletic on loan this month.
Aston Villa were held to a 1-1 draw by Ipswich Town yesterday, despite the Tractor Boys being down to 10-men. It was a game to forget for new Aston Villa number one Orjan Nyland.
The Norwegian international came to claim a long-throw midway through the first half. However, he barely got off the ground, spilled the ball, and Trevor Chalobah bagged Ipswich’s equaliser.
It was a big mistake from the £1 million signing from Ingolstadt. It also shed more light on what seems a baffling reshuffle of the goalkeeping department from Aston Villa.
After missing out on Sam Johnstone in the summer, a new recruit was expected. However, Aston Villa also had the bonus of a fit-again Jed Steer in their ranks.
The 26-year-old is a very talented keeper, whose career has been blighted by injuries. But he has been a Championship regular, playing 38 games on loan at Huddersfield Town in 2015-16.
Aston Villa started the season with the former England youth international between the sticks. However, the arrival of Nyland and Andre Moreira has seen him pushed down the pecking order yet again.
With that in mind, Steer joined Charlton Athletic on a season-long loan. The Addicks, can probably not believe their luck.
Steer is an excellent keeper who had done little to deserve more Aston Villa demotion. Nyland and Moreira are certainly not better options and it looks like Aston Villa have simply unsettled the goalkeeper position, once again, for little reason. No doubt, this is a baffling decision from Steve Bruce.
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