From the playing fields of South Devon to England and the World Cup - star footballer Ollie does mum and family proud

Torbay Weekly

The panic of the school run and getting your son to football has certainly been worth it for proud South Devon mum Delsi May - especially as he has just been picked for England
Premiership star striker Ollie Watkins has the world at his feet after manager Gareth Southgate named him in the Three Lions's squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifying games.

It is a far cry from the days of a boy footballer with the likes of the Newton Town and Buckland Athletic youth teams.

Delsi found about his England call up in a phone call from Ollie.

“I thought he was pulling my leg," said Delsi, 57, who will be well known in South Devon as talented singer Ruby Washington.

"I am still in shock.”

OIlie was born in Torbay Hospital. He and his family lived in the Newton Abbot area and he went to Abbotsbury and then Decoy primary school and on to South Dartmoor College.
His coaches could see he had potential even as a young boy aged nine in 2003 so he was put forward for a trial to get into Exeter City's Youth Academy - only to fail!

But he went back and was successful a year later

Delsi and Ollie were to share the school runs with South Dartmoor fellow pupil Matt Jay. Matt, from Torbay, is making a name for himself at Exeter as we speak.

Ollie joined the city academy at under-11 level. He rose through the youth ranks to sign a two-year professional contract in 2014.
It wasn't all plain sailing and at one time Ollie found himself with best friend Matt on loan to Conference South club Weston-super-Mare.

But it wasn't long before Ollie was back at Exeter, establishing himself in the first team and attracting the attention of the bigger clubs.

In 2017, he joined Championship club Brentford for an undisclosed fee,[22] reported to be £1.8 million.

Then just three years later Ollie signed for Premier League team Aston Villa for a club-record £28 million fee, which could rise to £33 million.

He grabbed the attention of the nation last October when he scored his first Premier League goals - a hat-trick against the mighty champions Liverpool.

And now less than six months later he has been named in the England squad for the matches against San Marino, Albania and Poland.

Delsi says Ollie owes a lot to coaches like Charlie Fath, Mark Taylor and Simon Hayward when he was playing youth football locally and with the Exeter academy.

Ollie has three brothers - Richie (35), Dale (34), Jordan (23) and a sister, Charlotte (31).

Dale was a good footballer but his career was ended when he broke a leg twice playing at the same Bakers Park ground in Newton Abbot.

Mum Delsi said: "Dale has been inspirational for Ollie. Everything Dale has predicted for Ollie has come true.”

She has been a professional singer since she was 18 performing on cruise ships around the world, theatres, holiday parks, clubs and hotels.

She is well-known on the South Devon circuit where she has appeared in popular variety shows at the Babbacombe Theatre and the Palace over at Paignton as well as Majestic Holidays' Templestowe Hotel in Torquay and for the Torquay Leisure Hotels group.

She was in a band called Up 4 Grabs for 10 years and is now part of a duet with keyboard player Simon Tucker. She was a member of the Divas, a four-girl group who were tipped for the top in the early 90s. They had appeared on Des O'Connor's Pot of Gold talent show.

But driving after a gig in Cornwall two of the girls in another car tragically died in a crash.

Delsi insists: "This is not about me. It is about Ollie. Family is everything for him.  From the moment he could stand as a little boy all he ever wanted to be was a footballer.

"He has been focussed on what he wants to be. He takes life in his stride and does not get flustered. But he remains humble.”