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The Big Interview: Lyden hoping to become Villa's latest Wizard of Aus

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The Big Interview: Lyden hoping to become Villa's latest Wizard of Aus

Villa have a long history of unearthing players from Down Under.

Adelaide-born Tony Dorigo arrived at Villa Park in 1983 after writing to the club to ask for a trial.

Mark Bosnich became one of the Premier League's finest shot-stoppers during a seven-year spell at Villa in the 1990s.

Nearly two decades later utility men Chris Herd and Shane Lowry progressed through our Academy into the senior ranks.

Our latest Wizard of Aus is Jordan Lyden.

Born in Perth to English parents, Lyden first appeared on the club's radar as a nine-year-old before joining our youth setup on a full-time basis seven years later.

Now the Australia U20 international is following in the footsteps of his compatriots by making strides in Villa's first team squad.

"There has been a link with Villa and the Aussie lads in the past which has been good," said Lyden.

"They seem to like our never-say-die attitude and our commitment to training.

"I like to think I train the way I play and I'm always committed, which is what everyone seems to like.

"There are not many Australians in the Premier League at the moment.

"Obviously you've got Mile Jedinak at Crystal Palace and Brad Smith is doing well at Liverpool too.

"Hopefully I can make that next step and be the next one to shine."


Lyden got his first taste of the big time as an unused substitute in our Barclays Premier League clash against Arsenal in December 2015.

He has been consistently named in matchday squads since the turn of the year and also chalked up his first senior appearances - two against Wycombe in the FA Cup and one in the league against Liverpool.

It's an exciting time for the 20-year-old but he continues to take everything in his stride.

"I've been over the moon with how things have gone," he said.

"Obviously to get called up to train with the first team, I was happy with that.

"I took it step by step. Then I found out I was in the 18-man squad for the Arsenal game and I couldn't believe it.

"I kept working hard, maintained my spot in the 18-man squad and got a bit of game time in the Wycombe away game.

"Then to start the replay was a dream come true, in the FA Cup at Villa Park with more than 20,000 people there. It was amazing.

"To make my league debut against Liverpool was special. Even though the result was very disappointing, I'll never forget that day.

"It was a proud moment for my family. The work I have put in has paid off but I need to keep going."


Lyden's breakthrough campaign came on the back of a painful 2014/15 season that was wrecked by a recurring hamstring problem.

There were times when the young midfielder feared his opportunity to progress to the big stage with Villa had passed.

"I only played 10 minutes of football last year which was really disappointing," he continued.

"It was a tough year for me. I needed a lot of support from my family.

"I saw a lot of young players getting pushed ahead of me and I thought maybe I wouldn't make that next step.

"But everyone around here trusted me to get back to where I was before the injury and now I'm pushing on, which is good."

Lyden points to the return of U21s coach Kevin MacDonald as a key factor in his development.

The Scotsman has trusted him with the captaincy in a Barclays U21 Premier League campaign that has seen our young guns challenge for promotion.

"This season I've worked hard with Kev," said Lyden.

"Since Kev came back there has been that pathway, as you can see with the likes of Andre Green, Keinan Davis and Niall Mason getting their chance.

"I've been pushed through the ranks here at Villa since the age of nine and with each step I've taken it in my stride.

"I was very happy to be made captain of the U21s. I feel I've got good leadership qualities and the way I play I feel like I'm a natural leader.

"I've stepped up and scored a couple of important goals and we're second in the league now."


Lyden's emergence has made big news in his native Australia.

His most ardent supporters are parents Kevin and Donna, who have travelled back and forth from Down Under whenever possible to watch their son in action since he joined the club.

Neither were present for his top-flight bow but Lyden wants to make sure there are plenty more opportunities for them to see him shine in claret and blue.

"Luckily enough my mom was over to see my debut at Wycombe when I came on as a substitute, so she was chuffed to bits with that," he added.

"Unfortunately, her and my dad were both in Australia when I made my Premier League debut.

"But hopefully there will be plenty more opportunities for them to come and see me play."

Dan Harrison
By @_danharrison_ 26th March 2016
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