Football News: Ollie Watkins Leads England to Euro 2024 Final

Nine years after his spell in the Conference South with Weston-super-Mare and seven years since he played in League Two, Ollie Watkins has written the latest chapter in his remarkable rise. The 28-year-old Aston Villa striker came off the bench in the Euro 2024 semi-final against the Netherlands, replacing captain Harry Kane to earn his 14th cap for England, and fired the Three Lions to the final with a clinical finish in the 90th minute.

Speaking to Football News, Watkins’ current and former coaches and team-mates shed light on the factors that have driven his ascent through the ranks and how he has adapted to the new challenges along the way.

Watkins’ non-League learning curve began with a loan spell at Weston-super-Mare in the 2014/15 season, where he scored 10 goals in 24 appearances for the Conference South side. Former Weston-super-Mare manager Ryan Northmore praised Watkins’ technical ability, work rate, and attitude, noting that the experience motivated him to push for higher levels.

Watkins then made his breakthrough at Exeter City, where he was converted from a left winger to a striker by then-manager Paul Tisdale. Tisdale worked with Watkins on the importance of off-the-ball work and winning the ball back himself, which helped develop his all-round game.

After a successful spell at Brentford, where he scored 49 goals in 143 appearances, Watkins made the step up to the Premier League with Aston Villa in 2020. His performances, including a hat-trick against Liverpool, justified Villa manager Dean Smith’s belief in him, and Watkins’ international career took off, making his England debut in 2021 and now playing a pivotal role in their run to the Euro 2024 final.

“He’s one of the most hard-working individuals I’ve worked with,” said Smith. “He’s got lots of qualities but the biggest one for me has always been his attitude and his selfless nature to the team when he works.”

Watkins’ winner against the Netherlands in the semi-final was his fourth goal for England, and he credited his team-mate Cole Palmer for the assist, saying, “I knew, as soon as he got the ball, he was going to play me in and you’ve got to be greedy.”

England captain Harry Kane praised Watkins’ patience and impact, stating, “We talk about being ready when it matters. You might get five minutes, one minute, but you can make a difference and win us a tournament. Ollie has been waiting, patiently, and what he did was outstanding. He deserves it.”

The Euro 2024 final will be held on July 14th in Berlin, Germany. Watkins and England will be looking to cap off his remarkable rise with European Championship glory.

๐Ÿ”— Source