‘I used to be Watkins’ team-mate – I named my child after him and solely simply informed him’

There might be a baby boom of little Ollies after England ace Watkins’ goal against the Netherlands, but one ex-team-mate has beaten everyone else to the punch.

Watkins has been on fire this season, not just bagging goals for Unai Emery’s squad but also dishing out the most assists in the Premier League. Despite being in top form, Watkins has been forced to wait for his chance with the Three Lions, playing just 20 minutes at the Euros before coming on against the Netherlands and delivering an iconic goal to send England through to the final.

However, Everton forward Neal Maupay didn’t need to see Watkins’ late heroics name his child after his former team-mate. The two shared a pitch at Brentford for a couple of seasons, and Maupay has revealed why he chose the name for his son.

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“I played with him, Ollie’s my friend,” Maupay said to talkSPORT. “Honestly, top goal from him, a proper striker’s goal, you know. Touch and finish. So I’m very happy for him.

“I have a story for you. I named my son after Ollie Watkins. When I first met him about eight years ago at Brentford, I loved the name and I said if I have a son one day, I’ll call him Ollie. Actually I spoke with him last week to let him know.”

In a twist of fate, England supporters indirectly have Maupay for Watkins’ crucial finish against the Netherlands. Back when Watkins was tearing it up with Maupay at Brentford, he was mostly playing as a winger. It was only after Maupay packed his bags for Brighton in 2019 that Watkins was turned into a striker and banged in 24 goals for the Bees, catching Villa’s eye in the process.

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Ollie Watkins and Neal Maupay
Ollie Watkins (L) and Neal Maupay (R) became friends at Brentford

The shift to the middle paid off big time for Watkins, who has recently thrived under Emery at Villa. After netting a late winner for England, Watkins gushed to ITV: “I’ve been waiting for that moment for weeks. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get where I am today, grateful that I got the opportunity and I grabbed it with both hands. I’m delighted.”

Unlike many fans watching the game, Watkins felt his 90th-minute goal was destined to happen: “I swear on my life, I swear on my kids’ life, I said to Cole Palmer: ‘We’re coming on and you’re going to set me up today’. And that’s why I was so happy.

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“I knew as soon as he got the ball he was going to play me and then you’ve got to be greedy: touch and finish. And when I seen it go in the bottom corner… oh my life. Best feeling ever.”