Five Aston Villa youth academy graduates since 2000 who've impressed

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish

Title winning members from Chelsea and Leicester City have emerged from the youth set-up at Villa Park.

England's Gary Cahill in action with Slovakia's Marek HamsikEngland's Gary Cahill in action with Slovakia's Marek Hamsik

The youth set-up at Aston Villa is a source of pride for the fallen Midlands giants, and in Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, the club could have another star to add to the growing list of successful graduates.

Some are still at the club - the likes of Nathan Baker and Gary Gardner - while others have gone afar to have successful careers. Here are five of the most notable graduates from the Villa academy since 2000.

Jack Grealish

We'll start with one player still at the club. Grealish burst onto the scene in the 2014/15 season, having made his Villa debut the season before following a highly impressive loan spell with Notts County. The winger became a mainstay in the side due to his ability to just drift past a player with ease, and his love and affection for Villa has endeared him to many a supporter. Grealish's best moment for Villa so far came at Wembley against Liverpool in an FA Cup semi-final, with the now 21-year-old playing a huge part in both of Villa's goals in a 2-1 win, assisting one and being hugely instrumental in the other. 

Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor celebrates scoring their first goal with Aston Villa's Neil TaylorAston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor celebrates scoring their first goal with Aston Villa's Neil Taylor

Gabby Agbonlahor

The former England international has had a bumpy ride with Villa fans recently, though most seem to have forgiven him for whatever previous grievances he may have sent their way following Agbonlahor's winning goal against rivals Birmingham City in a recent 1-0 victory. The 30-year-old has spent his entire career at Villa Park, scoring 85 goals in 284 appearances to date, and could well have a big hand in helping the club get promoted from the Championship next year following manager Steve Bruce's attempts to utilise Agbonlahor in the best possible way.

Gary Cahill

One that was let go too soon, Cahill emerged from Villa's academy in 2004 and would make his debut in the 2005/06 season, but his time at Villa was fairly brief. While Cahill remained with the club until 2008, he only made 31 appearances - scoring once - at a time where Villa were seen as one of the better sides in the country. Cahill went to Bolton Wanderers and his form there was noticed by Chelsea, who signed the England international in 2012. Cahill has since gone on to win the Premier League, the FA Cup, the League Cup, the Champions League and the Europa League in Chelsea colours. 

Aston Villa's Marc Albrighton (L) shoots as Manchester United's Patrice Evra challengesAston Villa's Marc Albrighton (L) shoots as Manchester United's Patrice Evra challenges

Marc Albrighton

The Villa fan had his dreams cone true after coming through the youth system in 2009, and the right midfielder was a useful player for the Villans - even drawing comparisons with David Beckham at one point due to his brilliant crossing ability and technique. Albrighton made 101 appearances for his boyhood club, scoring nine goals, before departing for Leicester City in 2014. After being an integral part in keeping the club in the Premier League, the next season Albrighton starred as Leicester City achieved the impossible and won the title.

Liam Ridgewell

Ultimately a man who loved Premier League football in the Midlands, Ridgewell started his career with Villa and came through the ranks in 2002, making his league debut in the 2003/04 season. Ridgewell went on to make 93 appearances for Villa, scoring seven goals, before moving across the city in 2007 to sign for Birmingham in a highly controversial move. With the Blues, Ridgewell made 175 appearances, scoring 11 goals and winning the League Cup, before signing for West Bromwich Albion in January 2012. With many jokingly half expecting Ridgewell to move to Wolves to complete his Midlands tour of the top two English leagues, after 78 appearances and two goals for the Baggies, the defender left for MLS side Portland Timbers in 2014, where he remains today.

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