With pace and trickery in copious supply, and an end product to validate the aforementioned gifts, Aaron Lennon is the quintessential right-winger. And despite his relative youth, he is not shy on experience either, having become the Premier League’s youngest-ever player as a 16-year-old in 2003 and formed part of England’s squad at Germany 2006.
Born in Chapeltown in 1987, Lennon exploded on to the scene with local big guns Leeds United after graduating from the club’s youth academy. He immediately began to wow supporters with some exhilarating performances.
With Leeds in financial difficulty, Lennon was sold to Tottenham Hotspur for £1m in the summer of 2005. The diminutive player took his time to settle at White Hart Lane, but began to find his rhythm as the season progressed and was, despite being just 19 and uncapped at senior level, a surprise choice in England’s squad for the last FIFA World Cup.
The Spurs flyer received little playing time in Germany and after starting two UEFA EURO 2008 qualifiers in March of the previous year, he did not play for his country for two years. This did not stop Lennon thriving at club level. He was nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award for three seasons running, ultimately losing out to Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ashley Young respectively, and enjoyed a wonderful 2008/09, scoring five goals in 47 appearances for Harry Redknapp’s team, including a last-gasp equaliser in a 4-4 draw with arch-rivals Arsenal.
Lennon took his game on to another level in 2009/10, although he was hindered by injury problems. When fit, he has also been a regular in Fabio Capello’s England squads and was named man of the match when the Three Lions routed Croatia 5-1 in qualifying for South Africa 2010.