Jed Steer: Aston Villa keeper reflects on long road to play-off semi-final victory

Jed Steer celebrates saving Mason Holgate's penalty
Jed Steer saved West Brom's first two penalties to help Aston Villa win the shootout 4-3 after a 2-2 aggregate draw

Six months ago Jed Steer was the forgotten man at Aston Villa - the third-string goalkeeper on loan at League One Charlton Athletic.

But after bad luck for others and some good fortune for himself, the 26-year-old is now preparing to play at Wembley for a place in the Premier League and is the toast of Villa fans.

His penalty-saving heroics ensured Villa beat West Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion in Tuesday night's shootout to reach the Championship play-off final.

But Villa's second longest-serving player had played just one league game for the club in five and a half years before being recalled to the side on New Year's Day.

Steer looked set for another spell on the sidelines with the January arrival of Lovre Kalinic but an injury to the Croatia stopper - ironically against Albion in mid-February - thrust him back into the side.

Since then he has been an ever-present as Dean Smith's side rose from mid-table to the play-off places on the back of a club record 10-game winning streak.

"That's football," the former England youth international understatedly told BBC Radio WM 95.6 shortly after helping his team to Wembley.

"It's ups and downs and thankfully I got a load of games in down at Charlton and that gave me the chance to play here.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity, and to think there's a chance I could be playing at Wembley is something I really want to do.

"I'll be working hard in training in the next couple of weeks to make sure I get the nod."

From Yeovil to Wembley, via Huddersfield and Charlton

Jed Steer at Charlton Athletic
Jed Steer kept six clean sheets in 20 appearances for Charlton Athletic this season, helping them win 11 matches in his spell at The Valley

Steer's route to Wembley has been a winding one to say the least.

Having come through the ranks at hometown club Norwich City, he left Carrow Road for Villa in 2013 having never played a league game for the Canaries.

Three cup appearances followed in the season after, then loan spells at League One sides Doncaster Rovers and Yeovil Town in the first half of the 2014-15 campaign.

He made his first Villa start in their final game in the Premier League - a 1-0 loss at home to Burnley on 24 May 2015 - before spending the following season on loan with then Championship side Huddersfield Town.

Steer only played in cup games last season, but started Villa's opening-day win at Hull City this campaign before agreeing a season-long loan at League One Charlton Athletic.

There he helped set the base that has seen the Addicks make the play-offs before being recalled after injury to Villa's first-choice Orjan Nyland at the end of 2018.

'He works so hard every single day'

Jack Grealish and Jed Steer
Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish (right) was full of praise for Steer after his penalty shootout heroics

"He's been a breath of fresh air since he's come back," Villa captain Jack Grealish said after the semi-final win.

"I'm so happy for him as he works so hard every single day.

"He's in the gym, the last one to leave and recently he's got his time to prove himself and he's done that."

Steer did not make the squad when Villa lost to Fulham in last season's play-off final and when he first got his chance back in February few would have thought he would be visiting Wembley this season.

"To get 10 wins on the bounce and make history at the club was something we had to do to get into the play-offs," added Steer.

"Thankfully we did, and now we're here we want to finish the job and go one further than we did last season.

"We've got boys in the changing room who suffered last season, and that's even more motivation to go out and win this time around."