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An Englishman all young players should aspire to be

One of the names which could be making headlines at the 2010 World Cup in June is England’s James Milner. And this is a player who makes the headlines for the right reasons – his footballing abiity.

He is someone all young players can take inspiration from. Before the English Carling Cup final where his team Aston Villa play Manchester United, Milner spoke about playing for Leeds United U11s when beating Manchester United was the highlight of his young career. He made the first team at Leeds when he was just 16. Now the 24-year-old has the manager of England singing his praises.

Milner’s story is one of hard work and hours spent on the training ground. According to Eddie Gray who was Milner’s coach at Leeds, “his one aim in life has always been to be the best footballer he can. His right foot was initially stronger but he just worked hard on his left and made himself two-footed.”

By working on his weaknesses he has made himself a player who can play in any position, winger, midfield and he has even played at left back for his club, which has seen some experts suggest he could solve the problem caused by Ashley Cole’s injury.

His manager at England U21 level, Peter Taylor saw Milner as his favourite player. “If all players were like him the job would be pure joy!”

“James listened to my advice and acted on it. His crossing improved immensely.”

He can also read the game better as he has played more games, constantly improving his technique. He is now the penalty taker at Aston Villa opening the scoring in the match with a penalty in the first few minutes.

When he goes home to his family he goes down to the local park and plays with the kids there, challenging them to a game of keepy-uppy.

A young man truly in love with the game and someone for all young players to aspire to be like.

Watch these two clips of Milner, one at the start of his career at Leeds aged 16 and now at Aston Villa aged 24:

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