If you’re like most football fans around the world, you’ve spent a great deal of time since the conclusion of FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 scouring your favourite teams’ website and Twitter feeds, and checking the rumour mill religiously for the latest gossip regarding the world’s top players.
But you perhaps should also have had your eye in on the happenings over at Aston Villa Football Club. Sure, they may have finished just in the middle of last season’s English Premier League table, but I follow AVFC because I’m waiting for Janoi Donacien’s breakout season.
Donacien, who turns 21 in November, moved to Luton in the United Kingdom with his parents in 2001. Just two years ago, through the intervention of the Saint Lucian overseas mission in the United Kingdom, he was given the right to live and work in the country where he has grown up.
Having followed the likes of Gabriel Agbonlahor, Gareth Barry and Gary Cahill through AVFC’s highly-acclaimed youth system at Bodymoor Heath, Janoi – a central defender – signed a new two-year deal with the Premier League club in July. He joined AVFC is 2009.
Janoi helped Villa win the Barclays Premier Reserve League South title in 2011-12, while 12 months later he was an integral part of the team that triumphed in the NextGen Series European competition, alongside the likes of Callum Robinson, Jack Grealish and Samir Carruthers.
Now he is keen to follow the lead of Robinson, Grealish and Carruthers by earning a taste of first team football. In 2013-14, manager Paul Lambert named him on the bench for the FA Cup clash against Sheffield United and the Barclays Premier League game against Sunderland.
“I am so happy that the club have given me an opportunity to sign for another two years,” said Janoi. “This is the right club for me to keep on progressing. I had a discussion with the manager at the end of the season and he said that hopefully I’d be looking to progress at the club.
“There are a lot of top players at this club who I am hoping to learn from. Hopefully I can get a good pre-season under my belt, get a good run-out and continue my progress. I’ve been on the fringes of the first team which was good for my progression. All of the senior lads have been very helpful and it is good to have people encourage you.”
This season, of course I’ll be following the fortunes of Manchester United, but I’ll be pulling for Janoi Donacien and the claret and blue of Aston Villa every step of the way. Here’s hoping to see you one day in cerulean blue.