Club: Aston Villa
Date of Birth: February 2nd 1991
Place of Birth: Birmingham, England
Previous Club(s): None
It’s striking that for an academy as successful as Aston Villa, the true centre-forwards of note produced in recent years top out at Darius Vassell and Luke Moore (Gabriel Agbonlahor not withstanding). Nathan Delfouneso aims to exceed that rather limited lot, and quite definitely has the potential to do so. He’s long been a name on the lips of those in the know in and around Villa Park, and has now started to translate that ability to the bigger stage.
At youth level, he has scored prolifically, but there was always a question of whether his physical abilities gave him an advantage, as is the case with many young forwards. Whilst not broad or muscular, Delfouneso is tall, lean, deceptively strong, and dangerously quick. At an average of a goal every second game at Academy level, it became necessary to step up to prove himself.
And he did, scoring freely at Reserve level, and earning a professional contract and a first team squad number under Martin O’Neill shortly after turning 17. He wasn’t to make a first team debut in 07/08, but wouldn’t have to wait long either, making the breakthrough at the start of the 08/09 season. As he continues to develop he shows intelligent movement and touch, the same great pace, and the ability to instinctively finish chances when presented with them. He threatens to do the same for many years to come.
08/09 was Nathan’s breakthrough year in every sense of the word. He began it featuring against minnow teams in the early stages of Aston Villa’s UEFA Cup campaign, scoring within half an hour of his first senior start against MsK Zilina. He continued to feature well for Kevin McDonald’s Reserve team whilst coming into the reckoning for UEFA Cup matches, scoring a notable goal away to Hamburg in December. As the year continued he made domestic strides, featuring from the start against Gillingham in the FA Cup, and followed it with a first domestic goal against Doncaster in the next round, a performance which caught the eye of many. March brought about a first Premier League appearance and a regular place in the Villa matchday squad.