11 July 2024

Soul music, spaghetti, super sub – 5 things about England hero Ollie Watkins

11 July 2024

Ollie Watkins capped his remarkable rise from Exeter starlet to England super sub with his last-gasp winner in Dortmund on Wednesday night.

Here, the PA news agency looks at five things you might now know about the 28-year-old Aston Villa striker who suddenly finds himself with the football world at his feet.

Never too much

Watkins is a big fan of soul music and chose to sing Luther Vandross’ “Never too Much” as part of his initiation ceremony when signing for Villa. Watkins gets his love of music from his mother Delsi-May, who is a professional singer in a band called The Superstitions.

Friends will be friends

He got into football through a friend who convinced him to accompany him to a training session at his local club in Newton Abbot when he was seven years old. Within a year he was scouted by Exeter, but did not join the Grecians until the end of the under-11 age group, as the club were initially unconvinced by his ability to concentrate.

Super trooper

He credits his goalscoring ability with a loan spell at Weston-super-Mare. Watkins joined the sixth-tier club in December 2014 after finding his opportunities limited at St James Park. It was during his spell with the Conference South club that the teenage Watkins evolved from a general utility man into a striker, scoring 10 goals in 24 games and returning to Exeter for the start of the following season as a different player.

Fight for your right

Watkins is a boxing fan and a particular admirer of heavyweight greats Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. Watkins explained in an interview that he is attracted by their levels of self-belief. “I think they had a presence about them,” said Watkins. “It was almost a cockiness, but it was just because they believed in themselves.”

Talking Italian

Watkins’ surge up the goalscoring ranks was largely fuelled by plates of spaghetti bolognese. Despite occasionally deviating to porridge and a bagel for early kick-offs, he has cited the ubiquitous Italian dish as his pre-match meal of choice. His post-match options have been less inclined towards the health conscious, admitting he has been happy settling down with his favourite takeaway.

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