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One to watch: Daniel Johnson
New feature series begins with a look at U18 skipper Daniel Johnson's whirlwind season.
14th Jun 2011
One to watch: Daniel Johnson


Daniel Johnson
Age: 18
Nationality: Jamaican
Position: Central midfield 
2010-11 highlight: Bench for first team against Burnley, Blackpool and Manchester United 

Quote: "I was at home getting ready to come to the Burnley game and I got a call from Sid Cowans saying 'get to Villa Park as soon as possible because the manager wants to put you on the bench'. I couldn't believe it."

A whirlwind campaign for Daniel Johnson saw him skipper a title-winning youth side, break into the reserves and make it into Villa's first team squad.

The Jamaican-born midfield dynamo featured sparingly in the first year of his scholarship with the club's renowned Academy.

But, in 2010-11, extra responsibility was placed on Johnson when U18 coach Tony McAndrew handed him the captain's armband.

He thrived on the challenge and went from strength to strength.

Midfield players who can chip in with goals are invaluable and Johnson netted 12 times in all competitions.

The term 'driving force' is perfect to describe the talented 18-year-old, who is a major goal threat with his surging runs from the central ground.

As well as leading Villa to the Barclays Premier Academy League Group B title, he was an inspiration during the FA Youth Cup campaign.

A trademark left-foot strike from the edge of the box in round four against Peterborough crowned a true captain's performance and ignited a cup run that would see the young lions reach the semi-finals.

If his season wasn't action packed enough already, Johnson also made 13 appearances for the reserves and signed a one-year contract extension.

By the time he penned his new deal in February the man known as DJ to his team-mates had already caught the eye of Gerard Houllier.

The Frenchman had no hesitation in calling upon Johnson to make a surprise appearance amongst the substitutes for the Carling Cup tie against Burnley in October after Stephen Ireland's late withdrawal through injury.

He kept his place on the bench for the next two Barclays Premier League games against Blackpool and Manchester United.

Despite his meteoric rise to the cusp of senior stardom, Johnson's true golden moment came in the final U18 game of the season when his two penalties sealed a win at Chelsea which confirmed Villa as league champions.

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