A former Watford winger is doing the business for England.
By David Barber
Only one player has featured in all of England’s last five internationals. His identity might be a surprise – it’s Ashley Young!
He started the EURO 2012 Qualifier with Montenegro at Wembley in October and then came on as a substitute in the friendlies against France and Denmark, scoring his first England goal in the latter. He started the EURO 2012 Qualifier in Wales and the Ghana friendly too.
Young made his senior debut under Steve McClaren, coming on for Joe Cole in the Austria friendly in Vienna in November 2007. As well as his 14 senior caps, he has ten at Under-21 level. He made three appearances in the UEFA Under-21 Finals in Holland, netting with two spot-kicks during the shootout as England went out to the hosts in the semis.
Young was born in Stevenage in Hertfordshire and played football with Formula One star Lewis Hamilton, who was at the same school. He was initially turned away by Watford’s Academy but later improved enough for the Hornets to offer him a professional contract. Ray Lewington gave him his first-team debut against Millwall in September 2003. He came on as a substitute…and scored.
He made his mark in the 2004-05 season, playing a part in 34 of Watford’s Championship fixtures, and was transferred to Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa for a reported £8m fee (£9.75m with add-ons) in January 2007. Eight days after the switch had been confirmed he scored on his debut against Newcastle United at St James’ Park.
Gareth Barry, a former Villa player, became England’s 47th post-war captain against Ghana. England have still to taste defeat in their 17 matches against African opposition.