Date: 23rd March 2024 at 12:00pm
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Aston Villa star Ollie Watkins has been one of the most impressive performers in the Premier League this season.

Here, the Englishman sat down to answers our questions…

Last year you wore the iconic England number nine shirt for the first time. What was that like? 

“It was quite cool. When I walked into the dressing room at Wembley I didn’t expect to see number nine! I had number 19 a few days before in the Switzerland game, so I thought I’d be 19 again. When I saw ‘Watkins’ and the number nine it was quite cool.”

Watkins has scored three goals in nine caps for England

That was the Ivory Coast game when you scored your second goal on your first start. How was that? 

“Yeah, it was a massive moment for me and something I have always thought about. Since I got into the England setup, I’ve always wanted to start a game rather than come off the bench. To do that was a big achievement in itself, then to score topped it all off as well.”

Did scoring on your England debut in 2021 help you? 

“I think so. Also, in some of the games I have come on in I feel like I have been literally an inch away from scoring as well, so I probably could have scored a couple more. I’m really enjoying when I get called up and the opportunity to play for my country and just trying to embrace it whenever I get that opportunity.”

Who has helped you settle internationally? 

“At club level there is Tyrone Mings and then Jack Grealish, who was at Villa previously. That’s kind of like a comfort blanket! I also get on well with Luke Shaw and Mason Mount. They are both good lads.”

There’s a Euros this year – have you always enjoyed big tournaments?

“They are huge and where the biggest teams are. I remember seeing Ronaldinho and Zidane and looking at all these players when I was younger. They’re the biggest competitions and the biggest trophies to win in the world. I always look forward to it.”

It feels like an exciting time to be at Aston Villa?

“It’s a really exciting club to be at and I’m really enjoying my time here. It’s the best place to be at really and to grow as a player. There are a lot of exciting things to come from us as a club. I’m really enjoying it.”

Watkins is the second top scorer in the Premier League this season

Did you feel pressure joining Villa from Brentford for a record fee? 

“There was a lot of pressure, it was a hefty price tag for a Championship player and was a record transfer fee. There’s pressure for me to deliver and help the team and score goals. I just wanted to try and enjoy it, make my family proud and I knew that if I put my head down and worked hard then good things will come.”

Is your ‘perfect’ hat-trick against Liverpool a career highlight? 

“I hadn’t scored in the league going into that game, so to get a hat-trick was not what I had expected – or the 7-2 score! It definitely took pressure off myself and I started to play with a little bit more freedom. Each game I grew and grew and got better I think.”

Do you look at your time in the EFL and appreciate where you are now? 

“I think I appreciate where I came from. I don’t take each day for granted and keep working hard. Just coming from grass roots makes you realise how lucky you are when you step into Tottenham’s new stadium, The Emirates or playing at Villa Park each week. It makes you appreciate it. I have really enjoyed the journey so far and there’s a long way still to go.”

The striker netted 26 times in 78 games for Exeter City

Have you always liked being a striker and scoring and creating? 

“I have played all over really, but I always find myself wanting to score goals and wanting to create chances. That’s definitely where I see myself and where I really enjoy playing.”

Are there any players you have looked at to perhaps learn from? 

“Cristiano Ronaldo is an icon. The way he looks after himself and he always performs when people doubt him. He’s definitely someone I look up to.”

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