www.shortlist.com sent us an interview with Villa and England striker
Ask around the pubs of Birmingham (trust us, we did) and Aston Villa fans will tell you that Gabriel Agbonlahor goes quiet in the winter, writes Tom Cullen. Very quiet.
Ten goals in total in the 2006/07 season, but only two scored between November ’06 and April ’07. Eleven goals in the 2007/08 season, but none between January and the end of March. Twelve goals last season, but just two after Christmas; it seemed like a worrying hibernation period that he couldn’t snap out of.
Until now. By mid-March, he’d already bettered his season’s best tally and is racing towards 20 goals. His charge will have caught the eye of England boss Fabio Capello, who names his World Cup squad on 1 June. At 23, it’s by no means the Brummie striker’s last chance to play on the world stage. But you try telling him that…
Do you think you’re in the squad?
No. Not yet. I have a 50/50 chance of making the squad but nothing’s in the bag. Sadly I’m not the one who makes the call. It’s just a case of waiting until the day of the announcement and doing my thing on the pitch from now until then.
You’re only 23. There will be more World Cups. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t go, right?
I wouldn’t say that. True, there may be more, but I would never use that as an excuse. You simply need to look at Michael Owen in the 1998 World Cup. How old was he? Eighteen? If I was to be called up now I think I’d be as ready as I’ll ever be.
Are you too similar to a lot of other strikers vying for a place on that plane? Jermain Defoe, for example?
You could say that, but then there’s a lot of players you could say that about. Look, Fabio Capello will know who he wants to take when the time comes and if I’m not in that squad I’ll know I haven’t done enough, irrelevant of my style of play.
What are Martin O’Neill’s strengths?
He’s fantastic at getting the best out of players and offering us the freedom to go and express ourselves on the pitch. Secondly, he differs from other managers in that many will drop a player if they have one or two bad games, whereas Martin O’Neill will stick by you if he knows you have the ability. He has patience.
How does he compare to Fabio Capello?
He’s very different. Capello brings a strictness.
We thought O’Neill could be a strict one?
He can be, sure, but Capello even more so.
Full interview on Vital England: Click Here
Used with the express permission of www.shortlist.com
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