Performance not good enough, conduct not good enough – Aston Villa’s captain apologises to fans and quits as team captain.
After years of decline, Gabby Agbonlahor has been praised for doing something right. The Aston Villa striker resigned as club captain on Thursday, after an investigation into his off-the-field conduct. Agbonlahor asked fans for their forgiveness saying “I do not deserve to carry out such a role anymore.”
The 29-year old player was pictured partying in Dubai last month causing anger amongst loyal fans. Photos of him smoking a shisha pipe spread across the internet alongside reports of the team’s season going up in smoke. Fans reacted angrily on social media and called for the former England international to quit.
Two weeks later the rift between the player and the club became evident when Aston Villa’s owner Erik Black, announced that Agbonlahor was not fit to play in the Premier League. He was to be put on a special training programme for two weeks but on the day that Aston Villa were relegated, Agbonlahor was pictured partying in a London hotel with alcohol and laughing gas, cementing his reputation as the poster boy of Villa’s decline.
The statement, posted on Agbonlahor’s Instagram read: I am asking Aston Villa fans for forgiveness as I’m hurting as well despite reports and photos in the press making out otherwise. I agree my performances this season have not been good enough but I will be working hard to make things right!
Agbonlahor has been at the club for 16 years and had been described as a local hero for Villa fans. He was born a few streets away from the stadium at Villa Park and attended Aston Villa’s Academy in Bodymoor Heath. Emerging as a professional player, Agbonlahor’s pace earned him his own chant and he went on to score 74 goals.
But this season, as the Premier League made headlines for rising stars and surprise ascents, Aston Villa’s story has been one of toxic work conditions, a succession of defeats and relegation.
Villa set a new club record in the Premier League with just three wins (their previous was seven) and only 16 points – the worst ever for the team at this stage of the season. The club recorded its lowest scores this year with only 25 goals from 35 games. The club has sacked two managers this season alone.
A statement from the club read: “Aston Villa Football Club can confirm the investigation concerning Gabby Agbonlahor’s conduct has reached a conclusion.
“The player has received a substantial fine and been reminded of his responsibilities as a professional footballer at Aston Villa.
Agbonlahor, who had been suspended during investigations into his conduct, has missed Villa’s last four Premier League games but will be available for selection to the first team after this weekend’s game against Watford.
Sadiya Chowdhury is a freelance sports journalist and tweets at @esadiya