at Villa Park, he won the 2009 PFA Young Player of the Year award and was declared 'world class' by manager Martin O'Neill after one sensational performance against Everton.
After fulfilling his potential with Villa, a World Cup place seemed a certainty only for coach Fabio Capello to look elsewhere but the player's response - as to his early setback at Watford - shows he has character in abundance. Earning more responsibility in a central attacking role, he racked up the assists and goals in his final campaign for the Midlanders and was one of the Premier League's most productive performers.
By signalling his desire to make the step up to Champions League football and deciding not to sign a new deal, it became obvious that he would move on with several top clubs keen on his signature. United pushed hard to land their target to hand him the bigger stage he craves and he quickly pushed for a start on the left flank.
A matchwinning assist on his Barclays Premier League debut for the Reds at West Brom quickly earned him acclaim, and a chant in his honour, but it was his sensational display in the 8-2 annihilation of Arsenal that proved he had genuinely arrived at M16. Attracting some unkind publicity in the press