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  • Akeeile Harris

Leon Bailey Opens up About Villa's Success, Emery's Impact: "I Wanted to Leave, He Gave Me Everything"

Jamaica and Aston Villa Star Reflects on Career Challenges, Mentorship by Craig Butler, and Fulfilling his Premier League Dream: "Everything I Thought It Would Be"

" I don't like feeling like just another player, that because I know what I’m capable of" (Photo: Getty Images)

Experiencing the best season of his professional career with 10 Premier League goals and 14 in all competitions, Jamaican footballer Leon Bailey, a star for Aston Villa, has recently extended his contract with the English top-flight team. However, he has been in the spotlight due to the fact that he was recently suspended from the Jamaica national team after allegedly breaking the rules. On the other hand, he claimed a lack of professionalism in an interview on Jai Frais' "Let's Be Honest" podcast.

Bailey took a seat for an exclusive interview for the weekly "Big Interview" show of the British Premier League, shared his story and delved into his success with Villa.

Bailey aims to elevate Villa to the top (Photo: Getty Images)

"My family members aren't really football players or anything. I met Craig (Butler) at the age of like seven, and ever since then he's been like a father to me", he explained, praising his adopted father. "He sheltered me through everything. I’m from a really tough neighbourhood. I mean crime and stuff like that in your face is like normal because that's what it is. It's the inner city".

Bailey reflects on the challenges he faced at the beginning of his career. "At the age of 12, I left Jamaica, first time ever travelling. I remember we only had one jacket and it was like not even a winter jacket, it wasn’t a puffer jacket or anything so that was the only thing we had at the time. And it was I remember we had to train with that. Craig made the sacrifice, left his job and everything as well. We were there for four years in Europe before going back to Jamaica for the first time, seeing our family".

 "It was everything I thought it would be. Definitely faster, stronger, quicker".

"They came to me with a plan as well that this is how the club was going, that's why I went with Aston Villa. I like working with the plan, I like working my way up. I believe whenever the time is right for you to go to these big clubs or big names or whatever, it will happen", he explained regarding his decision to sign for Villa for £30 million in 2021. "At Leverkusen, I felt like I started to get too complacent. So, I felt like I needed to make a change. I’m at Villa right now, we're competing for Champions League. These are the stuff that we spoke about before I came in here, I know it's happening and I’m a great part of that", he added.

Having fulfilled his dream of playing in the English Premier League, often described as the best in the world, Bailey reflected, "It was everything I thought it would be. Definitely faster, stronger, quicker. Everything about the game is just better in my opinion. it really made me, you know, dig deeper into, focusing on my body, focusing on making sure that I'm right every time I’m going to play".

Bailey with Emery. "he's the best manager I’ve worked with" (Photo: Aston Villa)

Bailey thrives under the guidance of manager Unai Emery, lauding his influence and revealing that he had entertained thoughts of leaving before the Spaniard's arrival at the Birmingham-based club. "He has had a lot of influence on me. Unai now gave me that confidence. I don't like feeling like just another player, that because I know what I’m capable of. I like to have a relationship with my coach.", he said.

"I remember at one point I wasn't happy at all. I wanted to leave. And then when Unai came in, everything changed", he echoed. "Like he gave me everything that I needed in a manager for me, he's the best manager I’ve worked with. he's really helped me a lot to really get people to see again what I’m able to do and what you know, why I was brought to this club and why I want to be at this club and help this club. We want to bring back the Aston Villa where", Bailey concluded.


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