By Dan Harrison
Karim El Ahmadi has vowed to become Villa's pass master after revealing the secret behind his impressive technical ability.
El Ahmadi has already showcased his ability in possession during the two pre-season friendlies against Burton Albion and Philadelphia Union.
The 27-year-old admits he used to take his football everywhere with him as a child - and he even slept with it!
"Nobody in my family played football, but I was just always a young boy playing on the streets with the ball," said El Ahmadi.
"When I was six or seven I went to football clubs and when I was 10 I went direct to the academy of FC Twente.
"When I was young I always wanted to play with the ball.
"At that time we didn't have any Play Stations or anything like that. So the ball was everything for me.
"I was sleeping with the ball, when I went shopping with my mum for some food, I would take the ball.
"Everything I did was with the ball. I will let it go now sometimes."
The Moroccan international has been trying to encourage his young nephews to adopt a similar approach.
"I say to my nephews, although they are good players, you have to also be mentally sure that you want to be a football player," he said.
"At the time when I was young it was only the ball that I wanted. "Now I see with my nephews that it's also the computers.
"When I tell them to go and play with the ball, they say, I want to play with the Play Station.
"I want to do that and do this. In my time it was different, I think.
"But also when I grew up we didn't have much at home. It was the only thing that I could play with and do my thing with the ball."
El Ahmadi reckons his humble beginnings have helped him along the road to success in his football career.
The ex-Feyenoord man is extremely grateful for the support of his family during his progression from the Dutch Eredivisie to the Barclays Premier League.
"It has helped me with my character and that is always what's made me stronger," he said.
"I also think about when I achieve good things. It is important to never forget where you came from.
"My family are very proud of me and support me with everything. In the beginning they were not thinking I was going to be a professional footballer.
"So at school I had to do my best academically. I was told that if I didn't do my best at school I was not going to go to achieve a high level in anything.
"At the end when you came to 16 or 17 then you knew that if you didn't achieve in football, then there was something else for you.
"I don't know what I would have done. I was studying banking so maybe I would have been working at a bank.
"But I had only one goal and it was to become a football player, so I am happy to be a football player."
Full guide to Villa's USA tour 2012 - click here.
Don't miss out on Paul Lambert's Villa Park debut against Everton - click here.