Former Aston Villa manager Dean Smith lauded Ollie Watkins after he continued his fine form with a goal in his side’s 4-1 home win against West Ham United.
Smith knows Watkins’ ability more than most after he persuaded Brentford to part with around £3m after being impressed during his time with Exeter City.
After scoring 49 goals and providing 17 assists in 143 appearances for the Bees, Watkins reunited with Smith at Villa when he completed a move to Villa Park believed to be worth around £33m in September 2020. Watkins has outlived Smith’s time in charge of the club and continues to go from strength-to-strength after he plundered his seventh goal in 13 games in all competitions so far this season.
Smith revealed his long-term admiration for the striker and described him as ‘a team player’ after he played a key role in Sunday’s win over the Hammers.
He told Sky Sports: “He was playing for Weston-Super-Mare (when he first saw him), he’d gone on loan there from Exeter and I went to watch him.
“I just liked his attitude, everything about him, he’s a team player, he works really hard. He talks about wanting the grass in front of him because he will chase things and you saw that with his goal.
“Now he has got centre-halves thinking, is he going to go outside? Or is he going to come inside? He can go both ways and that’s the beauty of him.
“He was expensive at the time but he’s definitely worth it. Everyone knows about the process that Brentford go through, we tried for him a year before but he took a while and we got him eventually.”
Smith pointed to Watkins’ stunning finish as the turning point in the game after the England striker grabbed his side’s third goal of the day to take them out of sight of their visitors.
“I thought it was a massive goal for him,” he said.
“He (Watkins) missed a big chance in the first-half and I thought West Ham had got on top when they scored their goal and upset the rhythm. It was a goal (Watkins’ strike) out of nothing really, it came from a bad ball, they tried to play out of defence but it was an unbelievable finish and Villa won at a canter after that.”