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Aston Villa: Nathan Delfouneso never lived up to his potential

When Nathan Delfouneso broke into Aston Villa‘s first team aged just 17, it seemed like a career of regular Premier League football was almost guaranteed for the striker.

After impressing in Villa’s academy sides, the teenage forward would be handed his first team debut in the 2008/09 season, scoring his first goal for the club in a European tie against MSK Zilina on his full debut.

Manager Martin O’Neill was full of praise for Delfouneso’s ability and potential after that goal, saying:

“I thought he played brilliantly in the game. I think it’ll be an interesting few months ahead because he’s got great ability.

“I thought he was terrific. He’s gone out with little fear and shown all the things I see every single week and the things that I saw last year in the youth team. It’s great to see a talent like that coming up.”

He grabbed his first domestic goal in a FA Cup win over Doncaster Rovers not long after, finishing his first season as a professional with three goals in 12 appearances for the senior side.

Delfouneso would also hit three goals the following season, including his first Premier League goal in a 2-1 win against Portsmouth.

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Surprisingly for the former wonderkid, he would only score one more top-flight goal in his career, as a number of disappointing loan spells away from Villa with Burnley, Leicester City, Blackpool and Coventry, which returned just 11 goals in total, would eventually bring an end to his time at the club.

Delfouneso was released by Villa aged 23 in 2014 and would re-join Blackpool, where he has spent the vast majority of his career, making 239 appearances and contributing 38 goals.

However, the Tangerines’ resurgence and return to the second tier would mean an end for Delfouneso at Bloomfield Road and he would join Bolton Wanderers, where he hit ten goals in 67 appearances.

He joined Bradford on loan last season but failed to score in any of his six appearances before he earned a move to Accrington Stanley earlier in the summer, which represents a significant decline after featuring for Villa in Europe.

In fact, the 31-year-old’s last goal came for Bolton towards the start of the 2021/22 campaign, when he found the net in the EFL Trophy a year ago to this very day.

Delfouneso has simply not lived up to expectations and if his goalscoring struggles continue with his new side, it will be a sad end to a career that promised so much 14 years ago.