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Feature: Award-winner Weimann's rapid rise into the spotlight

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Feature: Award-winner Weimann's rapid rise into the spotlight

By Dan Harrison

Andreas Weimann only moved into the first team dressing room a couple of months ago but he has already proved integral to Villa's season.

A sumptuous 20-yard long-range strike against Stoke City did plenty to sway voters in the club's end-of-season polls, with Weimann bagging the Young Player of the Year and Goal of the Season accolades.

That masterful moment in a Bank Holiday Monday war of attrition also earned the Austrian forward a place alongside Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa in Sky Sports' Goal of the Week contest.

Weimann's speedy first team ascent has been a tale of two contrasting efforts.

The late winner he bundled over the line against Fulham in March may have lacked finesse but few goals scored in Villa's arduous campaign will prove to be as significant.

The boyhood Rapid Vienna supporter has embarked on a rapid rise.

"The last few weeks have been absolutely brilliant for me because I have always wanted to play for the first team," he said.

"It is always nice when you read good things about yourself and you are always going to get confidence from it.

"But not much really has changed - it is still my job to try and score goals and create goals and work hard for the team.

"I think when if you watch me play I always try my best and work my hardest."

It was in the aftermath of that victory over Fulham - the biggest weekend in Weimann's fledgling career thus far - that we learned the true extent of his hunger for scoring goals.

Just 48 hours after soaking up the adulation of a packed Holte End, he put himself up for selection for the reserve team's clash against Norwich in front of a modest crowd of around 400.

Scoring both goals in a 2-0 victory still brought him tremendous satisfaction, adding to the two hat-tricks he had already netted for the second string against West Bromwich Albion and Wolves.

Like several members of Villa's current squad, a trophy-laden couple of years with the reserves have shaped his footballing education.

Since arriving on English shores as a teenager, Weimann has become part of a band of brothers who the climbed through the claret and blue ranks together.

Not only have he, Barry Bannan, Ciaran Clark, Marc Albrighton, Eric Lichaj and Chris Herd been effective together on the field over the years, they are virtually inseparable off it.

Weimann, in fact, shares a house with American full-back Lichaj.

The pair try to keep tactical talk to a minimum at home although the temptation to discuss on-field matters is always there.

"We have all played together for four or five years now and we have come through together and also we are all very good friends," Weimann explains.

"It helps that we all get on so well and we virtually spend most of the day together a lot of the time.

"Me and Eric try not to talk about football all the time.

"If it comes up then maybe we talk about it, especially after a game.

"But a lot of the time when we are at home we try and switch off from it."

Outside of his close-knit friendship group, Weimann points to several older and wiser influences.

Sporting excellence runs in the family.

Both of his parents were international athletes, with mum Sabine holding the Austrian 100m hurdles record for more than a decade.

Kevin MacDonald has been a strong mentor to Weimann as reserve team manager and first team coach.

The Scotsman also handed him his Premier League debut during a stint as caretaker boss.

Then there is stand-in skipper Gabby Agbonlahor, a player who Weimann now partners in attack having emulated his path through the academy ranks.

"Kev has been great. We all know what he wants from us and what he expects.

"We all have so much respect for Kev because we have been with him for the last five years so it has really helped having him around the first team too.

"When I first came to Villa, Gabby was playing for the first team and I saw him and said that I wanted to be there.

"I wanted to be like him. Now I am playing alongside him.

"On the pitch he is a big help because he speaks to me a lot and gives me advice about what to do.

"When I have watched him in games I've seen things like his movement and tried to do the same things."

It is almost five years since Weimann swapped the Austrian capital for the Second City and he now considers Birmingham his home.

There was even a suggestion following a recent Match of the Day interview that he is developing a Brummie twang.

"Everyone says something different about my accent!" he added.

"But now I do call Birmingham my home and speaking English is just like speaking German."

He has certainly had no problem grasping the language of scoring goals.

Snap up your seat for Villa's final home game against Tottenham - click here.

By @AVFCOfficial 1st May 2012
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