Rewind five years and no-one would have predicted Gabby Agbonlahor’s future to turn out like this.
Aston Villa used to cherish the English striker as a prime example of home-grown talent. Now, they’re focussed on offloading flabby-gabby as quickly as possible, as he continues to disgrace the club that developed him and made him captain by partying on the night their relegation was confirmed.
For now, Agbonlahor has been suspended by Villa, who have launched a formal investigation into his nightclub antics. Club sources insist Agbonlahor will not be sacked in spite of his latest indiscretions, yet the club are looking to move the striker out of the club during the next transfer window.
This is by no means Agbonlahor’s first offense, he was previously investigated and dropped by Villa after being pictured smoking a shisha pipe in Dubai. It then went from bad to worse. Villa caretaker boss Eric Black ruled that his captain was not in shape to play in the Premier League and placed him on a two-week fitness programme.
As for some startling statistics about Gabriel Agbonlahor, the following are particularly telling:
Gabby Agbonlahor has twice as many suspensions to his name this season as he does goals. #avfc
— Max Pilley (@max_pilley) April 19, 2016
Gabby Agbonlahor has more yellow cards (9) over the last three Premier League seasons than he’s scored goals (8).
— Kevin Blundell (@kevin_blundell) April 19, 2016
Yet perhaps the most troubling statistic is this:
Gabriel Agbonlahor has three England caps.
It’s unthinkable now of course, but once upon a time Gabriel Agbonlahor was hailed as the answer to all of England’s attacking woes… I kid you not.
Let me take you back to 2010.
In the aftermath of England’s woeful World Cup performance, Capello named Agbonlahor as the player he would be looking to to rebuild England’s squad.
The Villa striker missed out on the World Cup squad, but was arguably in the form of his life at the time under Martin O’Neill, scoring a healthy minimum of 16 goals a season.
What really sticks in the back of your throat is the hungry attitude that Agbonlahor used to demonstrate. The Aston Villa striker used to have such drive and motivation to succeed… what on earth happened?
Speaking in 2010:
“I need to do is show him that I deserve it. I want to get off to a good start, have a good season and get back in the England squad.”
“I want to do more this season and get myself into the squad. I am more determined to get in now.”
“I’ve improved each season and want to do the same again.”
Gabriel Agbonlahor, 2010
Makes for tough reading after everything that’s transpired since – this past season in particular. Fellow pro’s and international teammates had nothing but glowing remarks about Agbonlahor, tipping him to be the man to lead the line for England in years to come.
Speaking ahead of a friendly with Germany, one of the three International’s in which the Aston Villa pulled on an England shirt, former England captain Terry was quick to praise the ‘excitement’ he brought to the squad:
“It is good to come away and see what they are like day in and day out and maybe in 10-15 years time I will turn around to people and say ‘I played with him’.”
John Terry, 2008
Well John, it’s been nearly 10 years… still feel the same way?
Even as recently as 2013, former Villa player turned harsh critic, Stan Collymore was recommending that Roy Hodgson take Gabriel Agbonlahor to the World Cup in Brazil.
Collymore felt that Agbonlahor had all the necessary attributes to impress in the qualifying games – and beyond:
“I reckon Gabby Agbonlahor could be the man to make sure we go to Brazil.
“Gabby will be at his peak over the next couple of years and he certainly deserves a recall to the national squad after the way he has started the new campaign.”
Stan Collymore, 2013
It gets worse…
“He has honed his movement down to a tee over the course of more than six seasons in the top flight and has developed a cute football brain.”
“In his current form, surely he is worth another England chance?”
No-one saw such a rapid demise coming. The case of Gabriel Agbonlahor just serves as testament to how quickly your fortunes can change in professional football.