Walk with us down memory lane and take a look at past winners of the Young Player of the Season award at Aston Villa – detailing their impact at the club and where they are now.
As Aston Villa’s End of Season awards concluded last night, we were greeted with a number of winners of a number of accolades, which always whet the appetite for the remaining games of the season, and the following season after that.
It’s a chance to celebrate those who have had a huge impact at the club, and generally, the awards go to the right players.
Last night, the Young Player of the Season award was given to young Jacob Ramsey, who made his senior debut at 17-years-old with a substitute appearance against West Bromwich Albion at Villa Park earlier in the season. The midfielder has enjoyed a fruitful season for both the under eighteen and under twenty-three sides, and to have his year topped off with this award shows the kind of talent we have coming through our ranks.
We’ve decided to run through the history books a little, and we’ll be taking a look at previous award winners and where they find themselves today.
2010/2011 – Marc Albrighton
This season there were two Young Player of the Season awards – Players’ Young Player of the Season and Supporters’ Young Player of the Season.
Albrighton won both gongs this year, but shared the players’ vote with defender Ciaran Clark.
The tricky winger went on to enjoy another three years at Aston Villa, notching up over 80 appearances and scoring seven goals in the process. A homegrown talent, Albrighton spent eleven years at Aston Villa before he made his first team debut, and then was only fourteen appearances shy of a century when he left to join Leicester in 2014 after being released by his boyhood club.
Two seasons later, and Albrighton was an integral part of the Leicester City Premier League winning side under Claudio Ranieri. Since then, he has played in the Champions League, scoring Leicester’s first ever Champions League goal.
He regularly returns to Villa Park on match days when possible.
2012/13 – Christian Benteke
There were two awards this year too, but both were won by different players rather than one.
The Players’ Young Player of the Year went to Christian Benteke – in his first season in claret and blue. He scored 23 goals in all competitions in his first season at Villa Park, narrowly lost out in the PFA Young Player of the Season award to Gareth Bale, exceeded Dwight Yorke’s goals in a season record in the club and scored his first hat-trick.
He went on to spend three years with Villa, before Liverpool triggered his £32,500,00 release clause and the forward left after 89 appearances where he had scored 42 goals. He lasted a singular season at Liverpool as he couldn’t adapt to Jurgen Klopp’s high press football, later being sold on to Crystal Palace for a fee of around £27,000,000 with further add-ons.
His time at Crystal Palace has been blighted with injury, and he has managed only 19 goals in 82 appearances for the Selhurst Park outfit.
2013/14 – Leandro Bacuna
This is the season when Leandro Bacuna joined Aston Villa as a Netherlands youth international and widely impressed despite being consistently played out of position.
The winger, donning the number 7 shirt, predominately played at right-back throughout the season.
Bacuna, who went on to represent the Curacao national side managed to amass over 100 appearances for Aston Villa in four years at the club, scoring seven goals in the process – with a memorable one coming against Leicester City in the 2014-15 FA Cup, helping the side reach the quarter finals in the year they actually made it to Wembley for the final.
Leandro Bacuna angered Villa fans by stating he was good enough and wanted to play at Champions League level just a few short months after signing a long term contract with the club.
He went on to join fellow Sky Bet Championship outfit Reading in 2017 once Villa had spent a season in the second tier, spending two years at the club and amassing 60 appearances before returning to the Premier League this January after signing for Cardiff.
For Cardiff he has played nine times whilst helping them to try and avoid relegation.
2014/15 – Jack Grealish
Everybody knows how this story goes.
Grealish was highly praised for his performances this season – especially in the FA Cup – where he ran the show in a semi-final performance against Liverpool which sent Aston Villa to the final at Wembley.
He was also praised for some appearances in the Premeier League too, such as a 3-3 draw with Queens Park Rangers.
Grealish won this award a month after the scandal showing him inhaling nitrous oxide for recreational purposes.
Since then the man has matured, become the captain of his boyhood club and set the Sky Bet Championship alight. He’s still performing for Aston Villa and has appeared for the club over 100 times.
2015/16 & 2016/17 – Awards Cancelled
This season no player won any awards as the ceremony was cancelled.
The season was blighted with embarrassment, as Aston Villa were relegated from the Premier League for the first time since it’s formation, and numerous off-the-field scandals came to light.
These included Joleon Lescott’s “pocket tweet” after a crushing defeat to Liverpool, Jack Grealish deciding to go clubbing after a 4-0 defeat to Everton – which led to him being dropped to the reserves by then boss Remi Garde, and Micah Richards and club captain Gabriel Agbonlahor seen swanning it up in Dubai during a break in the season, which saw Agbonlahor lose his captaincy.
Unfortunately, we can’t find anything about the 16/17 awards either, and it looks like they may have been cancelled too as part of the fall-out from relegation.
2017/18 – Keinan Davis
Nobody, not even Keinan himself, expected him to have the impact that he did in the 2017/18 season.
The young forward made 28 appearances across the season at the age of 20 – something relatively unheard of unless a player is touted as a wonderkid. Keinan scored three goals as he was tasked with leading the front line with Jonathan Kodjia and Scott Hogan sidelined for large portions of the season.
Keinan still remains at the club after being here for four years and signing a contract extension last season with the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United reportedly interested in his signature. He had spent time at Stevenage United and Biggleswade Town before joining the Villa academy.
He’s managed to appear seven times this season whilst struggling with a hip flexor injury.