Jacob Ramsey has come on leaps and bounds under Dean Smith – and is improving from game to game. He can become the next Holte End hero.
Words: Andrew Maddox | @Andrew _Maddox
Cast your mind back to February 16th, 2019.
Aston Villa were losing to West Bromwich Albion and looking for inspiration, Dean Smith throws on a fresh-faced midfielder called Jacob Ramsey. The then 17-year-old had recently signed his first professional contract having impressed for the Under-23s. He comes on to the rapturous applause of the Holte End as Villa fans were excited to see the latest Bodymoor Heath prodigy.
While Ramsey didn’t affect that match, he still showed flashes of his quality and signalled the start of a great period of change at Villa. Previously, promising youngsters had been left in the academy waiting for a rare chance to come into the team. The likes of Callum O’Hare, Mitchell Clark and Jake Doyle-Hayes all looked like having promising Villa careers at one point only to be let go. With Ramsey’s quick progression into the first team, it showed that a pathway into the first team was now in place.
The diminutive midfielder had a brief spell on loan at Doncaster Rovers in 2020, but this was cut short due to the pandemic. He returned to Villa Park last season and went straight into the team, making his Premier League debut in a 3-0 win over Fulham in August 2020. Ramsey mainly played a rotational role at Villa last season, often failing to impress certain fans.
Over the summer window, there were widespread calls for Ramsey to have a second loan spell away from Villa Park. Many were less than enthused about his displays towards the end of the 2020/21 season and wished to see him develop elsewhere. The emergence of Carney Chukwuemeka on the first team scene didn’t help his case. However, Dean Smith again kept faith in the boyhood Villa fan and kept him around.
Now, Ramsey is finally starting to repay the faith. In Villa’s recent win over Newcastle, the 20-year-old midfielder exploded into life and controlled the midfield with John McGinn. He did the same in the defeat to Chelsea, while also being on a yellow card, as well as the win over Everton last week. His performance against Manchester United, this past weekend, once again was good – and the midfielder would have likely scored if he hadn’t lost his footing before trying to place a shot. His game has come lightyears forward over the summer, something not many expected even two months ago.
The rapid development of Ramsey should remind fans of a certain Jack Grealish. Throughout the 2014/15 season, Grealish was mainly used as an impact sub who excited fans, but ultimately had little actual impact. However, one dazzling performance in an FA Cup semi-final kicked his career into life.
While Ramsey is a totally different player to Grealish, it is not impossible to see him mirroring Grealish’s development. Seemingly overnight, Ramsey has evolved into a much more mature player and is drawing the adoration of fans again. Chants of ‘Jacob Ramsey, he’s one of our own’ are now flying from the Holte End and people are genuinely excited for him again.
However, it is not only his performances on the pitch that can make him a hero, the trends he represents are also massive for the club. As previously stated, Ramsey was seemingly the start of a bright new pathway into the first team for Villa’s youngsters. This has held true with Carney Chukwuemeka, Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Cameron Archer and even Jacob’s brother Aaron Ramsey now all around the senior squad.
Jacob Ramsey will save Aston Villa millions if he continues his current form, but he has already paved the way for the brightest crop of youngsters in decades to come through for Villa.