Aston Villa star John McGinn says ‘doing Cruyff and Zidane turns’ in the St Mirren academy has helped him become the technical player he is today.

The skill moves inspired by legendary footballers Johan Cruyff and Zinedine Zidane were something McGinn worked tirelessly on in the St Mirren academy. His career has gone from strength to strength since his days as a winger for the Buddies youth teams, now an Aston Villa and Scotland mainstay.

Aston Villa man John McGinn was once a Buddie
Aston Villa man John McGinn was once a Buddie. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

He had a stop at Hibs on the way to Aston Villa and Scotland stardom but McGinn still has plenty of time for his learning with St Mirren (TBI):  “St Mirren has an unbelievable academy and even still to this day it is producing players.

“It’s unexpected for the facilities they had at the time but now they have brilliant facilities, their own training ground and stuff like that. The youth coach at the time – David Longwell – he was my coach for 13 years. He stressed the importance of technique and if anyone remembers the old Love Street, they had an indoor 5-a-side park.

“It wasn’t massive so were just doing Cruyff and Zidane turns for three or four years. I now do usually do it when I make a bad touch or something! But the amount of times I did that at St Mirren made it natural. I have been sent off once in my career and it was for attempting a Zidane turn in the box against Easter Road for Hibs against Falkirk.

“But it got rescinded as I personally went to Hampden to describe this turn!  Physically it took me a while to catch up with the older guys but once I grew up I changed position. I was taller and no longer as fast! I had to adapt and Tommy Craig – a well-known Scottish coach – decided I was no longer a left-back or left-winger and that changed my career in that very moment.”

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