Steve Avory was delighted to see academy graduate Ezri Konsa earn his first senior call-up for England in the recent international break.
Newham-born Konsa, now at Aston Villa, joined Charlton as an U11 and progressed through the ranks to make 86 first team appearances before departing for then-Championship side Brentford in the summer of 2018.
A year later, the defender made the switch to Villa Park, and he was rewarded for some sterling displays this term with a spot in Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad for the two Euro 2024 qualifying matches against Malta and North Macedonia.
Academy Director Avory said: “I sent a message to him and got a nice reply. He didn’t get on the pitch but hopefully going forward he’ll be a part of future plans.
“He played a lot of his schoolboy years in midfield because technically he’s always been good. He can manage the ball well and when you add that athleticism it allows him to play wherever on the pitch really.
“In his scholarship years he went into that defensive role, whether it was centre-back or right-back. He was one of those players who didn’t spend too much time in U21 football - he just went straight into our first team.
“He’s a really nice character, a really nice lad. Initially, you feel that he has a bit of a rascal side to him, but you realise that it was always in good humour. He understood discipline and took it.
“There were some tough times in terms of the area he lived in, but I think his family were just what he needed. They’re a very supportive family.”
A World Cup winner with England U20s in 2017, Konsa, now 26, has played every minute of Villa’s fine start to the Premier League season and recently made his 150th appearance for the Midlands outfit.
“I’m always impressed by Ezri’s performances for Villa,” said Avory. “You look to see whether players can push on as he’s done by playing in the Premier League consistently.
“When he went to Brentford, I caught some of his performances that made me think he was someone who could go higher but you’re never sure until they get there. Even at Villa he’s had one or two in and out periods. Dean Smith was very much a supporter. He’s proved himself under other managers and established himself now as that Aston Villa centre-back.”
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