Aston Villa eye a happy end to new signing Matty Cash’s Toy Story as he is set to make his Premier League debut after once regarded League Two as the height of his footballing ambition
- Matty Cash once believed he could play League Two football in his career
- He is now set for his Premier League debut after signing for Aston Villa
- Cash is hoping to make an impact following his move from Nottingham Forest
Having once regarded League Two as the height of his ambition, Matty Cash will be like a kid in a sweet shop when he makes his Premier League debut for Aston Villa on Monday. Or should that be a toy shop?
Rejected by Wycombe Wanderers, then 17-year-old Cash sold toys at the Daniel department store in Windsor as he tried to save his career at a sports academy in nearby Bisham in Berkshire.
‘Nerf guns were all the rage — I had to stock them every day,’ says the new £16 million signing from Nottingham Forest, recalling his old employment.
Aston Villa completed the signing of Matty Cash from Nottingham Forest for a sum of £16m
Cash has gone from working in a toy shop to now where is set to make his top-flight debut
‘I’d be on the checkout scanning and downstairs putting the toys back out. From working in a toy shop to playing full-time at Villa is any boy’s dream.
‘I never thought I’d get this far. Going from college to the Premier League, it’s unreal, isn’t it? I knew I had a chance to play lower down. Conference, maybe? League Two… It just shows you never know.
‘You see talented kids who don’t get the opportunity. Luckily I got the opportunity and I took it.
‘I’m happy with the upbringing that I had. I’m grounded and appreciate what I have.’
Cash is 23 now with plenty going for him. When Wycombe cut their centre of excellence and let him go, he found a place at the FAB Academy in Bisham where 300 football scholars trained in the morning and went to classes in the afternoon.
All except Cash, whose grades weren’t good enough so he trained morning and afternoon. ‘Not being the brightest got me where I am,’ he quips.
Cash grew physically stronger and won a place at Nottingham Forest aged 18. A year ago, their manager Sabri Lamouchi converted him from midfield to right-back and he blossomed.
Cash is one of four signings made by Aston Villa during the summer transfer window so far
Clubs including AC Milan and Sheffield United, his new club’s opponents on Monday, were on his trail but he had no hesitation choosing Villa in the summer, with his dad Stuart hailing from the west Midlands.
‘I can’t thank my old gaffer enough for turning me into a right-back,’ says Cash. ‘He wanted to use my energy to get up and down the wing.
‘Villa ticked all the boxes. I was on holiday and had a call from my agent. He’d spoken to them and I said, “Just take me there now”.
‘It was a club I wanted to play for. The ambition was a massive thing for me. Hopefully I can bring quality to the final third and create goals as well as stopping them.’
Having earned his chance the hard way, there is little chance of Cash being overawed in his new surroundings.
He is house-hunting around Solihull near to team-mates John McGinn and Matt Targett. He’s even cheekily taking credit for Villa captain Jack Grealish last week agreeing a new five-year contract.
‘Jack’s talent speaks for itself,’ says Cash. ‘I said to him the day before he signed “C’mon Jack, you’ve got to stay”. He wouldn’t tell me anything but luckily the day after he signed it.
Cash suffered disappointment with Nottingham Forest narrowly missing the playoffs
‘Yeah, I told him to stay so that’s why he stayed!’
Given the glut of English right-backs from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kyle Walker downwards, Cash might also have the option of playing in Euro 2020 for Poland through his mum.
The Polish FA have been in touch but for now he’s keeping options open.
‘They said they were going to keep tabs on me and see what happens,’ he says.
‘Hopefully I can progress and break into the squad. I can’t speak Polish but I’m learning.
‘My mum is fluent so she can teach me. I’ll just have to wait and see what comes up and if it comes up.’
Of more immediate concern is settling in at Villa, who have also signed Ollie Watkins, Bertrand Traore and Emiliano Martinez.
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