Weston was a 'massive key' in my development to England says Watkins

England's Ollie Watkins

All smiles for Ollie Watkins as he faces the media during Tuesday's press conference. - Credit: Archant

Ollie Watkins has hailed his time with Weston as a "massive key" in his development after being named in England's squad for the first time for their World Cup qualifiers with San Marino, Albania and Poland.

After beginning his career with Exeter City, Watkins was loaned to the Seagulls between December 2014 and April 2015 before moving to Brentford and then Aston Villa last summer in a record-breaking transfer record.

"Looking back it has been a bit of a journey, but it's been a great journey. I have had some tough times along the way, but I have had some good ones," said Watkins during a press conference on Tuesday.

"Obviously that would be the dream to make my debut, but if it happens then it happens, I would be delighted and if it doesn't I will keep working hard and hopefully it won't be to long before I do.

"I would play against any team and any game for England it would be a dream, but the main focus is to win and if I get on the pitch then I will try to make the most of it."

Tottenham Hotspur's Japhet Tanganga (right) and Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins (left) battle for the ba

Tottenham Hotspur's Japhet Tanganga (right) and Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins (left) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham. Picture date: Sunday March 21, 2021. - Credit: PA

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Watkins has made a big impression with Villa, scoring 10 goals and supplying three assists in 28 matches at 252 minutes per goal.

But off the pitch, Watkins says his family are his driving force and inspiration to succeed.

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"I have always wanted to provide for and put my family in better positions, so that inspires me to work hard every day and just try to come a better person really," he added.

"If you have a bad training session, I want to have a good training session the next day and make up for my mistakes but I want to make my family proud."

Ollie Watkins in action for Weston against Hemel Hempstead during his loan spell with The Seagulls i

Ollie Watkins in action for Weston against Hemel Hempstead during his loan spell with The Seagulls in the 2014-15 season. - Credit: Mark Atherton

Watkins got his first proper taste of playing week in, week out when Ryan Northmore brought him and Exeter teammate Matt Jay to Weston just before Christmas 2014 and he scored 10 goals in 25 appearances to help the Seagulls avoid relegation.

And the 25-year-old forward says he values his time he spent in non-league and it is a great grounding for anyone wanting to succeed in the game.

"I spent a lot of time at Weston and that played a big part in my development, playing men's football for the first time," he said.

"Going out on loan, realising how much it meant to people and they had mortgages to pay and kids to feed, I definitely had a switch in my mentality. I think Weston was a massive key in my development.

"I would say between non-league and the league there isn't much difference, the standard is pretty similar, there's a lot of ex-pros that have dropped down the league and maybe they are not as physically sharp but you know technically they are still gifted and they have got it.

"You are playing against a lot of good players so I feel like you never know what is around the corner. My manager at the moment, Dean Smith, was at Walsall, and he watched me when I was on loan at Weston and a couple of years later I moved to Brentford. I definitely think you are never too far away and just keep working hard."

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