How many times did you see that image? Of a prowling Gabby Agbonlahor screaming, fists clenched after a testosterone-fuelled strike at the heart of another team? A quick-as-lightning goal at their expense? Too often, then sadly not enough, and now no-more. Not for Villa, and following todays news, not for another team.
Today former Villa forward Gabby Agbonlahor has announced his imminent retirement from professional football. The 32 year-old will settle for a place in the stands as he eggs Villa on from afar and will concentrate on business interests and family life after rejecting a number of offers to return to playing football.
Agbonlahor posted the following on his Instagram feed:
“The time has come to officially retire and watch Aston Villa as a fan,” Agbonlahor posted on Instagram. If I would have been told at school I would play nearly 400 league games, be the record Premier League goalscorer for Aston Villa, captain the great club and represent England at senior level, I would have laughed.
I want to say thank you to all the supporters, the staff I have worked with at a great club and my ex-team-mates. The thought of playing for another team or playing against Aston Villa was something I just couldn’t do. I look forward to whatever the future holds.”
After bursting onto the scene in the mid-00’s, Gabby continued to rack up the goals for Aston Villa and after an exodus of key figures, he stood alone as the last remnant of Villa’s ‘bright future’. That too would fade, but the last remaining memory of Agbonlahor for Villa fans would be yet another goal - opening Villa’s account for the 2017/18 season - before he left the club to seek a new playing opportunity in the summer of 2018. Of course, it seems that he changed his mind.
General opinion of Agbonlahor did sour - but he ends his footballing career having made 391 appearances for the club he loved and having scored 75 goals while making three appearances for the England national team. And remember, until Jack Grealish came along, there was nobody who could rile up Small Heath like Gabby Agbonlahor. Nobody.
The main lesson that we can take from Gabby? As mere spectators? Enjoy it all while it lasts. Every moment. This too will pass.
Thank you Gabby, for the good times, and sorry that we all had to endure the bad.