While Louie Barry’s magical strike against Liverpool has of course stolen the majority of the headlines following Aston Villa’s FA Cup third round defeat, there’s no doubting which player produced the most impressive performance of the night.
It would be wrong to overlook the fact that goalkeeper Akos Onodi had a lot more opportunities to showcase his talent than the rest of the Villa youngsters – but showcase his talent he did.
It’s not often you find yourself applauding the performance of a goalkeeper who’s just shipped four goals, but the fact of the matter is it could have been a whole lot worse were it not for the 19-year-old shot-stopper.
So who is this mysterious talent we’ve only just learnt of? He’s everything you need to know about Villa’s talented teenager.
You’ve probably already read about this on social media by now but it’s worth reiterating.
At 15 years of age Odoni had a two-week trial with Liverpool, though his bid to secure a place in the Merseysiders’ academy proved unsuccessful.
While it would be a bit of a push to say he had the last laugh against the Premier League champions – they did score four and progress comfortably to the next round, after all – his performance will almost definitely have had some of the Liverpool academy staff shrinking into their seats.
When you first heard the commentator say the name ‘Odoni’, we’re sure that – like everyone else in the country – you instantly thought to yourself ‘that’s an obscure name, surely he’s related to the 1992 Olympic gold medallist Henrietta Odoni’.
Alright, you didn’t think that, nobody thought that, but it’s true and it’s pretty cool.
The Villa goalkeeper is the nephew of the Hungarian gymnast, whose incredible medal haul over the course of her career saw her inducted into the International Gymnastics Haul of Fame in 2010 – now that my friends is some niche info. Taking ‘sporting hipster’ to a whole new level here.
While Odoni’s incredible reflexes might have taken most of us off guard, his teammates and coaches won’t have been surprised at all.
The 19-year-old’s shot-stopping ability is no secret in the Villa academy, so much so that he was awarded the Save of the Season award in the Under-18 Premier League last season.
He won the gong following his superb effort against Arsenal Under-18s which saw him tip a point-blank effort onto the crossbar, proving his immense reflexes despite being well over six feet tall.
The youngster’s performance against Liverpool was nothing short of extraordinary – despite conceding four goals on the night – and his Save of the Season award is further evidence of just what a talent he is.
Given his evident credentials, it’ll probably come as a shock to you that his stats for Villa’s youth sides aren’t particularly great.
Since joining the club in 2018, Onodi has made 18 appearances for the Under-18 squad, conceding 38 goals, while he’s made a further nine appearances for the Under-23s, conceding 13 goals.
Probably little surprise considering the lad’s obvious abilities, but Odoni is already working his way through the youth ranks for his native Hungary.
The 19-year-old has already been capped at both Under-16 and Under-19 level for his country, and if he can keep performing to the level he did against Liverpool then it undoubtedly won’t be long before he receives his maiden call-up to the senior squad.