The Mr Cool of English Football
It's not often that you get to meet a young up-and-coming player that goes on to fulfill his potential and excel at a higher level. Fortunately I had this honour with a young Ashley Young.
Then aged 22 he was playing for Aston Villa. With only one England cap to his name he could have fallen by the wayside in the same vein as other youthful promising one-cap-wonder talents, such as Francis Jeffers or Lee Hendrie.
However not only did Ashley Young maintain his consistency he was able upgrade in class when moving to Manchester United in 2011 and has become an integral part of their midfield. As for the international scene, he currently has 19 caps and 5 goals to his name.
Euro 2012 will be his first senior international tournament. It's semi-scandalous that he wasn't picked by Fabio Capello for England's 2010 World Cup squad. England lacked his pace, coolness and creativity in South Africa.
During my direct involvement in Premier League football I met a lot of under-21 players. Without a doubt Ashley Young stands out from them all. Now aged 26 I think he will continue to develop and enhance his game over the next couple of years before hitting his peak.
I may not have recommended him as a player on my blog as of yet but I think it's definitely worth giving him a mention as he is one of England's most gifted wingers/attacking midfielders at this moment in time.
Thanks for the autograph and your time Ashley, I wish you well for the present and the future!