Ollie Watkins, from Newton Abbot, joined Exeter City’s academy as an under-9, became a scholar/trainee in 2012 and made this first team debut in the final game of the 2013/14 season. He joined Brentford in 2017 moving to Aston Villa in 2020. Ollie made his England debut in 2021.
Ollie, an exact contemporary of Matt Jay at both school in Ashburton and in the academy, was an effervescent and lively member of the youth set-up from the under-9s onwards. Following the completion of his traineeship Ollie was offered a professional contract ahead of the 2014/15 season. By this time he had already made his first-team debut coming off the bench at Hartlepool on 3 May 2014.
Ollie had early first-team opportunities in 2014/15 in both the league and the EFL Trophy in which competition he scored his first City goal at Coventry on 7 October 2014. He then, together with Matt Jay, went on loan to Weston-super-Mare in December 2014 with Ollie impressively seeing out the season at the Somerset club. Back at City in 2015/16, Ollie started to show with appearances in the league and FA Cup prior to playing the whole ninety minutes in the 2-1 league win at Plymouth Argyle on 21 November 2015. This was the third of what was to be Ollie’s 22 league and cup games that season with him scoring nine times; the undoubted highlight being his 80th and 90th minute goals in the 2-1 win against Argyle on 2 April 2016. Ollie finished the season by winning the Disabled Supporters Association’s Most Improved Player, the Norwegian Grecians Trophy and Goal of the Season for his match-winning strike against Plymouth Argyle.
Ollie was becoming something of a star attraction and a player of huge potential. After setting up all three goals against Colchester, he scored his first hat trick at Newport County on 31 December. As City reached the play-offs Ollie scored 16 times in 52 league and cup appearances and was named EFL young player of the year treading in the footsteps of players such as Dele Alli and Gareth Bale.
The inevitable move came in July 2107 when Ollie joined Brentford for a club record transfer fee which, according to the press, was in the region of £1.8m. It was to be a four-year contract with the option for a further 12 months. Ollie scored his first competitive goal for the Bees against AFC Wimbledon in August 2017. After twenty goals in eight-six league appearances over two Championship seasons Ollie signed a new deal through to 2023. Then, in his third season, Ollie scored his first Brentford hat-trick - against Barnsley in September 2019 - and, in total, made fifty appearances scoring 26 times in a season that ended in Brentford’s defeat in the Championship play-off final.
With Premier League clubs showing more and more interest, Ollie joined Aston Villa in September 2020 on a five-year contract for a then Brentford-record £28 million fee (with the possibility of rising to £33 million). At Villa Park Ollie was to play for Dean Smith who had signed him for Brentford and, in his first season at Villa Park, scored seventeen times including a hat trick against Liverpool on 4 October 2020. By February Ollie was an England international scoring on his debut, as a second-half substitute, against San Marino at Wembley. A year later, in March 2022 and also at Wembley, Ollie was to score his second goal for England against Ivory Coast in his seventh international appearance.
Ollie added eleven Premier League goals to his tally in 2021/22 followed by fifteen the following season to bring his Aston Villa record to 40 goals in 109 league appearances by the end of 2022/23. Quickly passing the fifty-goal mark for Villa, Ollie returned to the England team in October 2023 when he scored the only goal in the victory over Australia.
League 71 (including 3 play-offs); Cups 7 (78)