From balls to books: Aston Villa star Ollie Watkins inspires youngsters to get into reading

Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins talks to ITV News Central on how he has been inspiring youngsters to get into reading.

Premier League star Ollie Watkins is known for writing the scripts when it comes to the good fortunes of Aston Villa.

When all seems lost, the hero has stepped up to save the day to secure valuable points and goals for the Villans.

But it's not just his protagonist prowess on the football pitch that has been inspiring youngsters, as he has now swapped his scriptwriting for storybook reading - thanks to a new scheme from McDonald's.

And fresh from his 2-1 victory over Midlands rivals Leicester City on Tuesday, the formidable forward took time out to talk to youngsters in Birmingham about the importance and power of reading.

Ollie Watkins has been inspiring youngsters on and off the pitch

He said: "McDonald's fund football programmes and Happy Readers.

"I wish I had that opportunity when I was younger to have the coaching sessions that they are putting on all around the country and doing what they are doing for the community.

"I think it's a really important to young kids to have that and I'm happy to be a part of it."

McDonald's is giving away 10 million books and putting on two million hours of free football coaching as part of the programme in what they describe on their website as "the ultimate culmination of books and footballs".

Ollie has scored eight goals in the last ten Premier League games

During the day in Birmingham, Watkins got the chance to read stories with the children and played a bit of football too.

He said: "What McDonald's are doing is incredible, they are putting on two million hours of coaching.

"They are donating ten million books to charities and one charity that is close to my heart is Skylarks."

Back on the pitch though, Ollie is writing his own story after climbing to the leading Premier League goalscorer in the last ten games - with eight goal.

He is ahead of the likes of Man City maestro Erling Haaland, Spurs sensation Harry Kane and Manchester United's mighty Marcus Rashford - who are all on seven goals in the last ten games.

Ollie said: "I feel confident going into every game the way the manager has got us playing is great to be a part of.

"I'm happy that i'm contributing to the team by scoring and assisting so long may that continue.

"I'm looking forward to the nine games we've got left. I think i've always worked hard, but i'm just getting the goals as well now.

"I was doing the dirty work before I Wasn't getting much joy, but now it's nice to be scoring and contributing to the team.

"I'm a big believer of hard work, you get what you put in and I'm going to keep doing that and bringing my best to the team."

Ollie reads stories with the youngsters

And it's not just Ollie having success, as Villa have now fought their way into the European spots, something they are keen to cling onto.

He said: "Yeah obviously that's the aim, we've got nine games left and we are playing against some really good teams.

"Brighton are playing some really good football and we've got Liverpool away and Manchester United away.

'So there are some tough games to play but the boys are confident in themselves and as a team I think we can do it.

"We just need to focus on each game at a time and take it from there."