Agbonlahor: One Of The Villa Greats
Young Agbonlahor in 2005
When a young 19 year old was pushed into his first senior appearance against Everton at Goodison Park, no one new that 9 and a half years later he would still be at his hometown club of Aston Villa. That debut in 2005 against Everton resulted in a 4-1 defeat but a very fast young Gabby Agbonlahor scored on his debut and it was all down to injuries that forced then Boss David O'Leary to put him in the starting line up.
Agbonlahor was one of four children born to a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother in Birmingham. However his parents separated while he was still young and he lived with his father, without any contact with his mother for around 20 years. In 2009, ahead of the striker's 23rd birthday, his mother made a public appeal to him via the Sunday Mercury newspaper, in order to become part of his life once more. Agbonlahor later contacted his mother and the pair reconciled. Agbonlahor's brother, Charisma, plays as a striker for Boldmere St. Michaels F.C. in the Midland Football League.
After his breakthrough season Gabby Agbonlahor's career went from strength to strength in a Villa shirt.
In the following season, Martin O'Neal took over and over three season's Aston Villa enjoyed the best performances in the last 13 years.
Agbonlahor started the season on the right wing in Martin O'Neill's new-look Villa side, and would be part of the team that managed to get a point from the first Premiership game at Arsenal's new Emirates Stadium. Agbonlahor's first goal of the season came at home against Charlton Athletic, in a 2–0 win. On 30 September, Agbonlahor scored a crucial equaliser against Premiership champions Chelsea just before half-time, heading in Liam Ridgewell's cross with a glancing header to earn Villa a 1–1 draw.
Agbonlahor also provided cup heroics in 2006, scoring an injury-time winner to beat Leicester City 3–2 at the Walkers Stadium. The following game, he scored a consolation effort in Villa's first loss of the season, on 28 October, ten games in.
Agbonlahor completed his run of scoring against the so-called "Big Four", when he added Manchester United to a list of his victims. Aston Villa were beaten 3–1 in the game at Old Trafford. Agbonlahor then scored deep into injury time in the following game, against Watford on 20 January, to end a Villa winless run that stretched back to 11 November.
Agbonlahor had played every minute of Aston Villa's campaign in 2006–07, until he was replaced by Patrik Berger, in the 2–0 away fixture against Reading, on 10 February 2007. The following match was the first of the season that Agbonlahor did not start—he instead appeared from the bench, replacing new Villa signing Shaun Maloney. Manager Martin O'Neill suggested that Agbonlahor, who had been playing out of position on the right wing for much of the season, had done superbly, and being dropped from the first 11 was in order to rest him, and alleviate growing crowd pressure.
Following this break, Agbonlahor went on a scoring spree. He scored from the right-wing against Everton on 2 April, to gain Villa a valuable point. Following this match, Agbonlahor signed a new-four-year contract at Aston Villa. The following Saturday, in the absence of John Carew, he was moved back to his natural position at centre forward and again found his name on the scoresheet.
Agbonlahor made it three in a row on Easter Monday, again scoring an equaliser, adjudged to have crossed the line by assistant referee Dave Richardson.
In the 2007/08 season Agbonlahor also scored the vital second goal in the match between Aston Villa and Chelsea on 2 September, in which Villa won 2–0. Agbonlahor scored the winning goal in the 86th minute of the Second City derby, 60 seconds after saving the ball on the line from a Liam Ridgewell shot. After 13 games, Agbonlahor was the club's top goal scorer, with six Premier League goals. On 7 December it was announced that Agbonlahor had won the Premier League Player of the Month award and manager Martin O'Neill had won the Manager of the Month award for the same month.
On 12 April 2008, Agbonlahor scored the fourth goal against Derby County in a 6–0 victory at Pride Park in the Premier League. In the Birmingham derby on 20 April 2008, he scored the fifth and final goal in the 5–1 victory.
On 15 August 2008, Agbonlahor signed a new four-year contract with Aston Villa, tying him to the club until 2012.
Following his contract extension in the 2008/09 season, Agbonlahor scored a "perfect" hat-trick (scoring goals with his head, right foot and left foot) against Manchester City in Villa's opening game of the 2008–09 season at Villa Park. The three goals were netted in the space of seven minutes, making it the second-fastest hat-trick in the history of the Premier League. He was later named man of the match for this performance, which led to a 4–2 victory.
On 3 November, Agbonlahor was at the centre of a controversy with Newcastle United's Joey Barton when, during the match, Barton appeared to brush his fingers on Agbonlahor's face. It later emerged that Barton's attack might have been race-orientated but, after careful consideration by both Aston Villa and the FA, no further action was taken. On 8 November, it emerged in some national newspapers that the reason Agbonlahor decided not to pursue legal action against Barton was because he "felt sorry" for him. On 15 November, he scored once and played a part in the other goal, when Aston Villa beat Arsenal 2–0 at the Emirates Stadium. He scored a brace against Bolton Wanderers on 13 December. Agbonlahor notched his tenth league goal of the season in the 90th minute in a 2–0 win against Blackburn Rovers on 7 February.
Agbonlahor's first goal of the 2009–10 season came in a 2–0 home victory over Fulham on 30 August 2009. The striker brought the ball from the centre of the field to strike, left-footed, past Mark Schwarzer from around 20 yards out.
The striker scored the only goal in the season's opening Birmingham derby against Birmingham, netting an open header past Joe Hart as a result of a free kick taken by Ashley Young. Agbonlahor scored his third goal of the season scoring in a 2–0 win against Portsmouth. He scored his fourth and fifth consecutive goals of the season against Cardiff City in the League Cup and Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League. His next goal came on 24 October 2009 against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux in the Premier League. Fellow Villa forward Emile Heskey played the ball into the penalty area where Agbonlahor turned a defender and placed a low shot past Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey. The game finished 2–1.
He scored the only goal in the 1–0 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford, heading in a cross from Ashley Young after 21 minutes, providing Villa's first league win at Old Trafford since 1983. Agbonlahor scored in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final against Blackburn Rovers helping Villa to get to the final where they lost to Manchester United 2–1. He scored twice in 2–0 win at Fulham on 30 January 2010. On 21 February, Agbonlahor provided an assist for Emile Heskey before adding Villa's final goal in a 5–2 victory over Burnley for his 11th league goal of the season.
Agbonlahor finished the season with thirteen goals in the Premier League, and 16 in all competitions.
Agbonlahor scored his first goal of the 2011–12 season in Aston Villa's 3–1 home win over Blackburn Rovers on 20 August 2011, and followed this up with the leveller in a 2–2 away draw against Everton 10 days later. For his positive performances during the opening month of the season, Agbonlahor was named as Aston Villa's player of the month for August 2011, beating off competition from Fabian Delph to the top spot. He then made it 3 goals in 3 games when he scored in a 1–1 home draw against Newcastle United on 17 September. This meant that Agbonlahor had equalled his Premier League goals tally from 2010–11 after just five games into the new season.
After rediscovering his goalscoring form under new boss Alex McLeish, the striker publicly spoke of his discontent at the managerial tenure of Gérard Houllier and his assistant Gary McAllister and said that he even considered quitting the club had the previous regime remained. Meanwhile on the pitch Agbonlahor continued to impress, scoring the first goal and setting up Darren Bent for the second in a man of the match performance against Wigan Athletic on 1 October. He then put in another man of the match performance against Norwich City in a 3–2 win, on 5 November, setting up both of Darren Bent's goals and scoring the second himself. On 7 January 2012 he scored the second goal in a 3–1 win against Bristol Rovers in the third round of the FA Cup after Marc Albrighton had given Villa the lead. On 3 April 2012, after Aston Villa captain Stilyan Petrov's diagnosis with acute leukaemia, Agbonlahor was named team captain upon Petrov's diagnosis.
Agbonlahor's ancestry qualifies him to play for Scotland or Nigeria at international level, but he chose to play for his homeland of England.
Agbonlahor has 3 England caps to his name
On 20 September 2006, Agbonlahor was pencilled in as a player in the Nigeria U-20 team for the match against Rwanda. He turned down the call, whilst not ruling out playing for the country in the future, but subsequently pledged his future to England.
On 28 September 2006, Agbonlahor received his first call-up to the England U-21 squad, and won his first U21 cap as a substitute against Germany on 6 October. Agbonlahor was then omitted from the England's U-21 Championship squad, by manager Stuart Pearce, on 30 May 2007, as a result of missing the England U21 training camp in Spain. David Bentley, also included in the England first team line-up, took his place.
Agbonlahor was later recalled to the side by Pearce, in September 2007, netting his first goal for the under-21s, by scoring the second in a 3–0 victory, over Montenegro U-21.
On 1 February, Agbonlahor was named in Fabio Capello's 23-man England squad to play Switzerland in February 2008, although a hamstring injury forced him to withdraw from the game. Agbonlahor was also an unused substitute in England's respective 2–0 and 3–0 friendly victories against the United States and Trinidad & Tobago in May–June 2008.
On 15 November 2008, he was called up to Capello's squad for the upcoming match against Germany in Berlin, joining three other Aston Villa players in the squad: Ashley Young, Curtis Davies and Gareth Barry. On 19 November, he was named to start against Germany. He played for 76 minutes, had a goal disallowed and received high praise from John Terry, the latter describing him as "a nightmare to play against".
On 11 February 2009 he was in the starting line up against Spain, where he played for 75 minutes before being substituted for debutant Carlton Cole. He made his first appearance in a competitive international on 14 October 2009, playing 66 minutes in the 3–0 win over Belarus in the last game of qualification for the 2010 World Cup. He was last called up to the squad in November 2011.
On 10 September 2014, Agbonlahor signed a new four-year contract, saying "I can still remember making my debut, so to still be able to contribute is a great feeling." Three days later, he scored the only goal as Villa won away at Liverpool, a club he had only scored once against before in the Premier League.
Now Agbonlahor has notched up his 300th
Villa appearance and thinks he could get to 500!
I actually remember my debut, it was very, very special and I can not wait to make it to 500 appearances because I love this club, we have a legendary manager now and we are going places. I have a job to blood the youngsters that are coming in and we will get to the top of the table at some point.