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'B******ings' & nearly quitting football - Leicester City's Mitchell Clark tells his Aston Villa story
EXCLUSIVE: Mitchell Clark talks BirminghamLive through his 12-year journey at AVFC

ByAlex Dicken
11:38, 29 JUL 2019UPDATED11:39, 29 JUL 2019

Mitchell Clark’s story is one of self-deprecation and doubt which almost led to him quitting football all together.

Downbeat and disheartened after being told he would be returning to under-23 duty after a month rubbing shoulders with Jack Grealish and Co last pre-season, Clark was ready to pack it in.

Almost 12 months later the likeable 20-year-old is sitting in a hotel lobby in Birmingham itching to prove Aston Villa wrong after being released.

“In my head I felt I was closer to the first team than perhaps Villa actually thought,” Clark told BirminghamLive shortly after his Villa release. “Me being disappointed was probably my own fault. Any young lad going up to the first team and coming back down to your own age group is disappointing.”

With Villa in crisis and money in short supply, Steve Bruce had promoted Clark to his first team set-up. The defender returned from Bruce’s annual pre-season training camp in Portugal to feature in friendlies with Telford, Walsall and Burton Albion.

But news of Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens’ takeover in late July put Villa back in the black. Suddenly there was millions to spend and no room in the first team reckoning for rookie full-back Clark.

It wasn’t rejection, but Clark didn’t know that. Suddenly those feelings of being the odd one out, just as he’d been in Villa’s academy, came rushing back on a flight to Denmark with the under-23s.

“There’s been so many times when I’ve felt like packing it up because I felt like I wasn’t good enough,” says Clark. “If it wasn’t for my family, my friends and Lee (Marsh, Clark’s agent) I wouldn’t still be playing football.

“When I was younger, I wouldn’t say I was bullied, but I was picked on. Everyone knew each other (in the academy) and because I’m from Coventry, I was the only one from my area that was there. I didn’t feel part of the team. I was always on my own.

“I’d always enjoy my football and I’d always be playing but there were times when I was thinking, ‘I don’t really want to be here, I’d rather just go and play with my mates.'

“Football is my life. I’m not great as far as education goes. I seemed to be one that beat myself up.”

After pre-season with the first team, Clark started the season with the under-23s
Regular watchers of Clark will testify to that last part. His desperation to do well often leads him to exasperation in the event of a mistake, not that he made many of those during a near impeccable two seasons with Villa’s under-23s.

He continued: “I always used to look for my dad in the stands and he always used to put his thumbs up so I knew if I was doing all right. I don’t like losing or playing bad, I just want to impress everyone.”



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1 hour ago, Sol thewall Bamba said:

Strange to pick him up after he's been released by a team with a worse youth set up. Oh well. 

We also picked a player up from them when they arguably had a worse 1st team than us, although we had just been promoted. 

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Interested to see how this one pans out - probably one for a loan out to L1 / 2 to start with? Definitely sounds like the lad just needs a proper first team break - anywhere - to realise his potential, and hopefully our set-up is better at drawing out his confidence than Villa's ever was, especially with Brendan now at the helm.

Good luck and welcome to LCFC, Mitchell. 

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He played 40 games for Vale last season, so they obviously rated him.


Unfortunately, as a rightback, he's got Ricardo, Justin, Amartey, Johnson and Vontae-Campbell all vying for that position.


Good luck to him.

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1 hour ago, nwl fox said:

I'd question his temperament reading that interview... 

Remarkably honest, I get tired of reading the same boring clichés from footballers that seem to just go through the motions. The lad might have a bit of self confidence issues but at least he has seemingly acknowledged that and with the very best facilities and staff you'd hope he would work on that, otherwise the club aren't getting the best out of their players. Sport is as much mental as it is physical, at elite level i'd argue the difference between success and failure is more mental than physical.

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Do we still have a sports psychologist,  if so this lad will need to visit him. Seems very low in confidence and self esteem. Like others have said a honest and even emotional interview. Hope he does very well for us. 

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