James Milner is in some ways the perfect professional footballer – having been blessed with a huge amount of skill and an exemplary attitude to the game. An effective winger, who is also comfortable in either full-back position, Milner has recently been employed as a central midfielder by his club manager, Martin O'Neill, and has impressed in the role, proving himself a valuable member of the Aston Villa team this season. Pacy and skilful, the 24-year-old is able to beat defenders with ease, and his enthusiasm for the game has won him many fans along the way.
Milner's career began at Leeds United, where he was viewed as one of the finest prospects around. Going a long way to proving that theory, in 2002 Milner became the youngest player to score in the Premier League when he found the back of the net against Sunderland, aged just 16 years and 185 days, snatching the record from Wayne Rooney. With Leeds in financial turmoil, the young forward joined Newcastle United in 2004. After a loan spell at Aston Villa in 2005, Milner made his switch to the Midlands permanent in 2008, signing for £12 million.
He was handed his full international debut against the Netherlands in August 2009 and came off the bench to set up Jermain Defoe in the 2-2 draw. After making a record number of appearances for England U-21s, Aston Villa's attacking midfielder will be looking to repeat that kind of success with the senior side.