How Tyrone Mings went from barman and mortgage adviser to England international

Tyrone Mings: Aston Villa defender takes on Football Focus’ Honesty Cards

Barman. Mortgage adviser. England international.

Ten years after being released by Southampton for being too small, Tyrone Mings could make his second appearance for his country on Sunday, when the Three Lions travel to Kosovo.

In between, he drove a £100 Citroen Saxo, threw a sickie to go on trial at Ipswich Town and had a “pop and growl” at Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy.

Here, BBC Sport speaks to some of the people who have helped him rise from ninth-tier Corsham Town to full international.

From ‘too small’ to the big break

Tyrone Mings has the second-most Premier League clearances this term

Mings joined Aston Villa in a £20m move in the summer after helping them win promotion to the Premier League while on loan from Bournemouth.

And the 26-year-old has settled quickly in the top flight – his dominant performances at the heart of Villa’s defence leading to an England debut against Bulgaria in August.

The 6ft 5in defender has made the second-most clearances in the Premier League this season and also ranks second for most headed clearances – not bad for a player discarded by Saints at the age of 16 for being ‘too small’.

While his contemporary Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain progressed through the academy system, Mings’ route was considerably more challenging.

Rejected by several other clubs, including Bristol Rovers, his journey took him back to school, into non-league and to jobs pulling pints and working as a mortgage adviser, all while travelling around in a battered £100 green Citroen Saxo with white wheels.

“His Saxo was what you would expect of a first car – it was pretty beaten up,” says former Chippenham Town team-mate Toby Osman.

“It was hardly out of place, and we wouldn’t have given him stick even if it was because his dad is an absolute unit.”

Osman, whose father Russell played for England, viewed the young defender as “well worth a look” and set the wheels in motion for Mings to get his big break.

“He’d only played half-a-dozen games for us and a few clubs were having a sniff around him so I called my dad, who was the academy manager at Ipswich,” said Osman.

“He came to St Albans, where Tyrone had a ding-dong with ex-Fulham striker Barry Hayles. He stood up to him really well and that got him a trial at Ipswich.”

I knew I’d made it when I upgraded to a Corsa – Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings

‘Shut up and get off the pitch – I want to sign you’

Mings made an immediate impression at Ipswich, although he almost got off on the wrong foot with then manager Mick McCarthy.

“I’d only seen him for two minutes walking around the pitch and I said: ‘We’ll sign him now,'” says McCarthy.

“I liked all of the first three things he did. He was big, quick and powerful and he was yapping away and shouting. He was only in on trial and he was letting everyone know verbally.

“I took him off after 75 minutes, and as he came off he was having a pop and a growl at me.

“He was going to get injured – it was really competitive and people were leaving their foot in. He said: ‘I don’t want to come off.’

“I said: ‘I know you don’t want to come off but I’m taking you off because you’re going to get injured and I want to sign you, so shut up and get off the pitch son.'”

‘You can forgive someone for doing that’

Mings’ trial at Ipswich took place on a cold December day. He should have been sitting behind a desk looking at mortgage products, but called in sick.

“You can forgive someone for doing that,” says Mark Harrington, his boss at London and Country.

“He was with us for over a year and his hard work and dedication shone through. He was very smart and wanted to learn how to become a mortgage broker.”

Since his career change, he has spent Christmas Day feeding the homeless,