Blessed with pace to burn and the ability to play centrally or out wide, Birmingham-born striker Gabriel Agbonlahor began making a name with local side Aston Villa while still in his teens. His breakthrough came in 2005/06, a season which featured his first league goal for the club as well as brief loan spells at Watford and Sheffield Wednesday. Over the next three campaigns Agbonlahor was virtually an ever-present for the Villans in the Premier League, rattling in 31 goals.
At England U-21 level, the forward made his debut under Peter Taylor when coming on for Wayne Routledge in a UEFA U-21 Championship qualifying play-off against Germany in October 2006. He went on to score four goals in 16 appearances for the U-21s, including three starts in the Three Lions’ run to the final of the UEFA European U-21 Championship 2009 in Sweden.
Given a chance by senior boss Fabio Capello in a friendly in Germany on 19 November 2008, he started that 2-1 win as well as the 2-0 friendly defeat by Spain in Seville three months later. The Villa hitman, who continued to show impressive form at club level, had to wait a while for his next full cap, Capello including him in his starting XI in England’s final 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifier against Belarus at Wembley in October 2009.