Kilmarnock’s Aaron Tshibola hit the headlines as a youngster as he made a £5 million move to Aston Villa.
It was a big fee after the midfielder showed potential at boyhood club Reading, displaying his potential in several standout midfield performances. But that move to Aston Villa didn’t work out.
Loan moves away at Nottingham Forest, MK Dons and Killie had Tshibola moving around often, spending last term in Belgium and Portugal.
Things have changed month after month recently for the midfielder who has signed a one-year deal with Kilmarnock. One thing follows him wherever he goes though, that price tag he had at Aston Villa. It’s something he can’t stand.
“The move was a massive dream,” Tshibola told NTOF. “At the time I did not want to leave Reading because I wanted to stay and progress with my development. I feel like I have unfinished business with Reading, but I think the club didn’t reciprocate the feeling I had towards them.
“I always had an ambition to play in the Premier League so when Aston Villa came in, it was a massive club that were going to go back to the Premier League. I had to go, for me I was like ‘wow, this is crazy.’
“I was ecstatic. But my time at Villa was very difficult. The expectation it came with, even now people label me as the player who went to Villa for the price tag he went for.
“It’s stuck with me up until this day and that’s how people label me. They expect brilliance, but a lot of the time the transfer fee does not have anything to do with the player. And now that’s stuck with me.
“I feel like being at that young age heading to Aston Villa, not having the support system, that family-type feeling club. I think it affected me as I didn’t have anyone to go to if I was struggling if I felt down. They brought in Steve Bruce who was very assertive with his approach to coaching and players.
“I couldn’t just go and speak to him on a personal level. I didn’t feel he was going to speak about what he needed from me. It was tough, I had no one. Even though I met some good people who helped me along the way, it was difficult to adapt.”
Taking time off social media
He’s dealt with the good and bad publicity, so Tshibola is pretty knowledgeable at staying focused for someone who is only 25.
Social media is a huge thing now in football, whether you’re a club, a fan or someone in the media, it’s a go-to place to put your opinions and pretty much anything you wish onto a platform. Tshibola reckons it’s important for players to take a step back from it all.
“I think there’s more pressure coming to young players,” he said. “One of the ways I dealt with hype is limiting my time on social media.
“I didn’t let any of the outside noise allow me to absorb negativity, hype, positivity, any type of information. I focused on my game and knew what I wanted to achieve.
“I had to keep my feet on the ground. It’s definitely harder now because social media is a big thing for the younger generation. They get excited when they get the hype, good press or information. For them it’s a major thing so they want to be online.
“It’s important you limit your things on these things because it can affect your ball.”