Friday, September 23, 2016

Aston Villa Greatest All-Time Team

European Cup 1982
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Aston Villa are one of the oldest and most successful football clubs in the history of English football. Villa won the 1981–82 European Cup, and are thus one of five English clubs to win what is now the UEFA Champions League. They have the fifth highest total of major honours won by an English club,  having won the First Division Championship seven times, the FA Cup seven times, the Football League Cup five times, and the European Cup and UEFA Super Cup double in 1982.

Team
GK: Jimmy Rimmer (England)
Rimmer played for Manchester United, Swansea City, Arsenal and Aston Villa.  He is considered to be the greatest Aston Villa goalkeeper. He won two European Cup medals: 1968 with Manchester United and 1982 with Aston Villa in 1982.  He was  Alex Stepney's understudy in the 1968 Final.  In 1982, he only played 9 minutes before getting an injury. Rimmer was capped once.

GK: Sam Hardy (England)
Discovered by Liverpool FC after playing against them with Chesterfield.  He joined Liverpool in 1905.  Later, he played for Aston Villa. He was capped 21 times, which was then an astonishing number and was widely considered to be England's first ever star keeper. 

GK: Mark Bosnich (Australia)
Bosnich was voted as Oceania Goalkeeper of the Century.  He was known for his career with Aston Villa.   He earned himself a transfer back to Manchester United in 1999, but his career started to fall apart over there.  He also played for Chelsea. He also played in Australia for Sydney United, Central Coast Mariners and Sydney Olympic. For the national team, he only earned 17 caps due to club's commitment.

RB: Stan Lynn (England)
Nicknamed "Stan the Wham", he was renowned for his powerful right-footed shots which came from his "Booming Boots".  He started with Accrington Stanley.  He was all-time great with Aston Villa. Playing against Sunderland in January 1958, Lynn became the first full-back to score a hat-trick in a top-flight match. He moved to Villa's arch-rivals Birmingham City in 1961.

CB: Gareth Southgate (England)
He won the League Cup with both Aston Villa and Middlesbrough (in 1995–96 and 2003–04 respectively, and as captain), and captaining Crystal Palace to win the First Division championship in 1993–94. He also reached an FA Cup and UEFA Cup final as a player, and made 57 appearances for the England national team, featuring in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and both the 1996 and 2000 European Championships. 
Gareth Southgate
CB: Martin Laursen (Denmark)
He played three seasons for Italian club AC Milan, with whom he won the 2003 UEFA Champions League and the 2004 Serie A championship. He also played for Italian clubs Hellas Verona and Parma FC, and Aston Villa. Capped 53 times from 2000 to 2008, and he was named 2008 Danish Football Player of the Year. He represented Denmark at the 2000 European Championship, 2002 World Cup, and 2004 European Championship tournaments.

CB: Allan Evans (Scotland)
Evans played for Dunfermline Athletic (1973–77), Aston Villa (1977–89), Leicester City (1989–90) and Darlington (1990–91).  He won the league title in 1980/1 and was part of Villa's 1982 European Cup winning team. Evans was later club captain and helped Villa win promotion back to the First Division in 1988. 

CB: Chris Nicholl (Northern Ireland)
He played for Burnley, Witton Albion, Halifax Town and Luton Town, before establishing himself as a centre-half with Aston Villa. He won the 1976/1977 League Cup after two final replays. The second replay is remembered for Nicholl scoring one of the greatest goals in any Aston Villa match, a forty-yard left footer which helped take the match to extra time. Capped 51 times.

CB/DM: Paul McGrath (Ireland)
One of Ireland's greatest players.  He played 83 times for Ireland. He appeared at the 1990 and 1994 World Cup Finals, as well as the Euro 1988.  He played for St Patrick's Athletic and then, joined Manchester United in 1982.  He had a run-in with Sir Alex who was the new manager at Manchester United and moved to Aston Villa in 1989 where he won the PFA Player of the Year in 1993. He later played for Derby County and Sheffield United.
Paul McGrath

LB/CB: Steve Staunton (Ireland)
He was capped 102 times for Ireland.  He was the first footballer to have reached a century of caps for them. He went to the World Cup Finals in 1990 and 1994.  He captained Ireland at the WC Finals in 2002 after the depature of Roy Keane. For his club career, he started his career with Dundalk.  He played mainly for Aston Villa and Liverpool. 

LB:  Charlie Aitken (Scotland)
Aitken is the all-time record appearance holder at English club Aston Villa. He played for Villa from August 1959 until May 1976, a period of 17 seasons. Aitken was a member of the 1975 League Cup winning team, having been a runner-up in 1971. He spent the last two seasons of his professional career in the NASL with the New York Cosmos.

DM: Gareth Barry (England)
He has made 597 appearances in the Premier League, including 365 for Aston Villa, putting him third on the all-time appearances list, and top amongst current players. In 2009, he joined Manchester City, where he won the FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League title the following season. After a season on loan, he joined Everton on a three-year contract in July 2014.
Gareth Barry
CM: Dennis Mortimer (England)
Mortimer captained Villa to the 1982 European Cup Final. A 1–0 victory against Bayern Munich in the De Kuip Stadium was courtesy of a Peter Withe goal. From 1975 to 1985 he made 403 appearances for Villa scoring 36 goals. He also played for  Coventry City, Sheffield United, Brighton & Hove Albion and Birmingham City.

CM: Gordon Cowans (England)
Cowans started his career at Aston Villa as an apprentice in 1974, and signed as a professional in 1976. During his time at Aston Villa, he won the League Cup, the League Championship, the European Cup and the European Super Cup.  He also played for Derby County, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sheffield United, Bradford City, Stockport County, Burnley and Bari in Italy.  Capped 10 times.

CM: David Platt (England)
Platt began his career as an apprentice at Manchester United but later moved to Crewe Alexandra where he began building a reputation as a goal scoring midfield player. In 1988, he signed for Aston Villa and made his debut for England a year later. At the 1990 World Cup, his performances in Italy earned him a move to Bari in 1991. In 1992, Platt moved to Juventus, where he spent one season. In 1993, he moved to Sampdoria where he stayed for two seasons before returning to England with Arsenal.  Capped 75 times.
David Platt
RW: Tony Daley (England)
Daley joined hometown club Aston Villa as an apprentice and soon made his senior debut aged 17 in1985. He played there for ten seasons.  His team finished a runner-up in both the 1989–90 and 1992–93 league championships. He also played in their 1994 League Cup final triumph where they defeated Manchester United at Wembley.  Capped seven times for England between 1991 and 1992 under former club manager Graham Taylor.

LW Tony Morley (England)
Morley played for Preston North End, Burnley, Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City, as well as playing for other teams in Hong Kong and the USA. His goal against Everton at Goodison Park won him the 'Goal of the Season' award for 1980–81. He was a vital part of the Villa side that won the League Championship in 1980–81 and the European Cup the year after. His brilliant dribble and cross set up Peter Withe for the winning goal against Bayern Munich in the final. Capped 6 times for England.
Tony Morley
LW: Eric Houghton (England)
He signed for Aston Villa as a seventeen-year-old and played in the Villa side for two decades, scoring 170 goals in 392 games. He also won 7 caps for England. His formidable and powerful shot was regarded as the hardest shot of his era. Houghton converted 58 spot kicks and also scored direct from about 30 free-kicks. He finished his playing career at Notts County.

FW: Archie Hunter (Scotland)
Hunter was one of Victorian football's first household names. He was first captain of Aston Villa to lift the FA Cup, in 1887. Despite being one of the greats of the 19th century game, Hunter never fulfilled his dream of playing for Scotland against England. This is because at the time the Scottish Football Association had a policy of not picking 'Anglo-Scots' (i.e. Scots who played in the English League).

FW: Pongo Waring (England)
Tom "Pongo" Waring is one of Aston Villa's all-time great centre forwards. He signed for Tranmere Rovers in 1926, scored 6 of the 11 goals scored against Durham City. He moved to Aston Villa for £4,700 in 1928. As well as playing football, Waring also worked for The Hercules Motor and Cycle Company in Aston.

ST: Peter McParland (England)
He scored two goals against Manchester United at the FA Cup Final of 1957.  He was also remembered for injuring Manchester United keeper Ray Wood in a legal move during the game. He also won the Second Division title in 1960 and the League Cup in 1961 while with Aston Villa. Represented Northern Ireland 34 times and starred for them in the 1958 World Cup in which he scored five goals and helped his team to the quarter-finals. 
Peter McParland
ST: Harry Hampton (England)
Better known as "Happy" Harry Hampton or as "The Wellington Whirlwind," he played for Aston Villa from 1904 to 1920. He scored both goals against Newcastle United in the 1905 FA Cup Final. He was joint top goalscorer in the First Division in the 1911–12 season. Between 1913 and 1914 Hampton was capped by England four times, scoring two goals in games against Wales and Scotland. His career was cut short by injuries suffered in the First World War.

ST: Andy Gray (Scotland)
Started with Dundee United, he joined Aston Villa in 1975. His 29 goals in the 1977-78 season earned him the PFA Young Player of the Year and PFA Players' Player of the Year awards.  At the time he was the youngest player to earn the Players' Player of the Year award.  Later, he had successful careers with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton.  With Everton, he was a part of their great team of the 1980's, winning the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. Gray won 20 caps for Scotland, scoring 7 goals for his country. Despite winning the Player of the Year award, he was not selected for the WC Finals in 1978.
Andy Gray
ST: Peter Withe (England)
He was a much-travelled English footballer who played as a striker between 1971 and 1990.  The highlights of his career came at Aston Villa, where he was a key player in the Football League title triumph of 1980–81 and scored his side's only goal in their 1982 European Cup Final victory.  Capped by England 11 times, Withe scored once, and was the first Aston Villa player to be selected in an England World Cup Finals squad (in España 82).

ST: Billy Walker (England)
He is considered by many to be the greatest footballer to ever play for Aston Villa Football Club. He made 531 appearances for Villa between 1914 and 1934, scoring 244 goals, of which 214 came in 478 league matches.  He remains Aston Villa's all-time top goalscorer to this day. He was an FA Cup Winner with Villa in 1920. Walker is the only-player to have scored a hat-trick of penalty kicks in a Football League game, doing so against Bradford City in November 1921.
Billy Walker
Honorable mention
Ashley Young, Johnny Dixon, Brian Little, Darius Vassell, Ken McNaught, Olof Mellberg, Richard Dunne, James Collins, Kent Neilson, Stan Lynn, Kenny Swain, Clem Stephenson, Harry Hampton, Trevor Ford, Eric Houghton, Stiliyan Petrov, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Gary Shaw, Howard Spencer, Stan Lynn.

Squad Explanation
-- Nigel Spink is the 4th keeper. He helped Aston Villa to win the European Cup, but not enough to be one of the top three. Peter Schmeichel only played one season with Aston Villa. I never considered him.
-- Howard Spencer was left largely because I was not sure about his playing position. He was probably a right fullback. Stan Lynn was selected as the only rightback, leaving out John Gidman.
-- Garth Barry is one of Aston Villa's longest serving player. He edged out Stiliyan Petrov who is a  member of Aston Villa Hall of Fame. David Platt, Dennis Mortimer and Gordon Cowans were selected ahead of Petrov.  Paul McGrath could also play in the midfield.
--  I chose Tony Daley because he is probably the best right winger avaliable.  Tony Morley, Ashley Young and Eric Houghton played on the left.
-- Danny Blanchflower's career with Aston Villa often got overlooked. He did not fit into the team's playing style at the time.  I did not put him on honorable mention.  
-- Trevor Ford only spent three seasons with Aston Villa. While his scoring rate was high, I took players who had a longer tenure with the club.  Gary Shaw and Brian Little also missed out. Clem Stephnson were overlooked.  Instead, I took Peter Withe who won the European Cup. 
-- Dwight Yorke also missed the team because it was hard to select him over Peter McParland, Peter Withe, Harry Hampton, Archie Hunter and Andy Gray.
-- Eric Houghton, Harry Hampton, Archie Hunter and Andy Gray were not on my original team. I did not recall why and how I missed their selection on my first selection.

Formation 
I do not think Platt is effective on the right side. And I am not sure about Walker partner Hampton upfront. Morley got the start over Houghton because I grew up watching Morley. Yes, it is biased.




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