Whilst Marc Albrighton may never have been the most high-profile of players in his time at Aston Villa, the club’s academy product did end up making over 100 appearances for them.
The winger notched nine goals and provided a further 19 assists, including scoring the Premier League’s 20,000th goal when he netted against Arsenal in 2011.
And whilst he was never the star of the show at Villa Park, it was still somewhat of a surprise when the club opted to release him in the summer of 2014 back when Paul Lambert was still in charge.
Since then, Albrighton has opened up on how his departure came about, and it’s clear there’s still a strong level of disbelief and disappointment at the way things turned out.
He said: “Two days after the season finished, my agent phoned me and said ‘There’s nothing on the table from Villa’. So I said, ‘What do you mean there’s nothing?’
“He was like ‘There’s literally not an offer, there’s not an offer there. You’ve got to go to another club. In my head, definitely naively, I trusted everything that they said. I don’t know whose decision it was, I still don’t know now.
“In my head it was, ‘Yeah my contract’s sorted, he said it would be sorted towards the end of the season, keep playing your football, keep doing what you’re doing, keep doing well’.
“So that’s what I was doing and I just expected a contract. I didn’t expect anything massive because I hadn’t been playing every game, I’d only played bit parts. But whatever was on the table for me I would have accepted. 100 per cent. I didn’t even think in my head that I would leave Villa.”
And whilst being released by his boyhood club may have come as a shock, there’s no doubt that since his exit, he’s continued to prove his former side wrong.
Hailed as an “underrated” player by ex-Liverpool ace Danny Murphy, Albrighton of course played a key role in Leicester’s miraculous Premier League title triumph in 2016 – that season saw him pick up an impressive seven assists in just the top-flight.
And even now at 31, the winger is still producing the goods for Leicester, delivering the assist for Jamie Vardy’s late equaliser in the Foxes’ 3-3 draw against Braga in the Europa League on Thursday.
He’s taken his experience with Villa and let it motivate him, and that’s full credit to him.