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7 Of The Best Players To Ever Play For Aston Villa

Podcast Blog Post 4

We will certainly not be mentioning the likes of Joleon Lescott, Charles N’Zogbia and Eric Djemba–Djemba so bad they named him twice. We will be focusing on the cream of the Villains crop, so we will start from 7 and work our way to the best player to ever play for the Aston Villa. Here we go. 

7: Allan Evans

Allan Evans is regarded as one of Villa's all-time greatest defenders. To be recognised by a club and its supporters as one of "the greats" is always an honour but what makes Evans' inclusion in the Villa defenders' hall of fame so special is that he was originally signed as a striker.

The Scot signed from Dunfermline in 1977 as a centre-forward but was soon converted to centre-half where he enjoyed a long and successful career for Villa, making 475 appearances.

Evans played a key role in Villa's 1980-81 league winning season, contributing to a splendid defensive record that saw the side concede just 40 goals in 42 games.

Consistent at the back and a fine header of the ball, Evans claimed a number of trophies in his time at the club, including the European Cup.

6: Peter McParland

Peter James McParland accomplished a number of great things during his time at Villa but the main reason he is widely considered as one of the all-time greats is because of his goals in the 1957 FA Cup final. McParland single-handedly won it for Villa.

Villa had failed to win a trophy in the preceding 37 years but his two second-half goals secured the cup.

McParland will also be remembered for another incident in the same game. After just six minutes, he clashed with Manchester United goalkeeper Ray Wood, leaving the Red Devils custodian unconscious with a broken cheekbone.

Wood had to leave the field and, as this was in the days before subs were allowed, he was replaced in goal by Jackie Blanchflower. The goalkeeper came back on as an ineffective outfield player before going back in goal for the final seven minutes.

5: Trevor Ford 

If there was a half chance of a goal - or possibly even less - Trevor Ford was willing to throw himself in where it hurt. Strong and courageous, he simply revelled in battles against opposition centre-halves, and loved the business of scoring.

You only have to look at his statistics to realise that. He scored 61 goals in 128 appearances and established himself as one of the most prolific marksmen in the club's history, falling only marginally short of a goal every two games.

4: Paul McGrath

Regarded by many as the greatest player in Aston Villa’s history, Paul McGrath’s name is still the most chanted by the Villa Park faithful.

The 1993 PFA Footballer of the Year award and two League Cup winners medals were the tangible achievements of his seven-year spell.

However, McGrath’s impact on the football club was far, far greater than those accolades. In ‘Aston Villa: The Complete Record’, by Rob Bishop and Frank Holt, McGrath is credited with “turning the business of defending into an art form”.

McGrath’s contribution was all the more impressive given his problems with dodgy knees and the demon drink.

3: Johnny Dixon

Johnny Dixon spent his entire professional career as a footballer at Aston Villa after writing to the club asking for a trial simply because he liked their name.

The former frontman passed away at the age of 85 in 2009 and, due to a battle with Alzheimer’s, was sadly unable to remember his greatest-ever triumph: Dixon was the last man to lift the FA Cup as Aston Villa captain, back in 1957.

However, a few years before his death, he was able to recall the event, admitting he almost broke down in tears before the full-time whistle at the thought of lifting the trophy. 

2: Dennis Mortimer

Dennis Mortimer will forever be known as the captain during Aston Villa’s greatest hour. 

Mortimer was the man who lifted the European Cup during that famous victory over Bayern Munich in Rotterdam on May 26, 1982.

The Liverpudlian midfielder played a crucial part in Villa conquering the continent, having led the claret and blues to the First Division title the year before.

Aston Villa’s greatest ever player: Gordon Cowans

Appearances: 527

Goals: 59

Few players throughout Villa's history can match the sheer quality of passing displayed by midfield ace Gordon Cowans. Over 15 yards or 50, the midfielder's delivery of a football oozed poise and precision, and invariably set a dangerous attack in motion.

Gordon Sidney Cowans will also be remembered as Villa's Prodigal Son. He left the club three times - and on each occasion he returned, latterly as a youth coach and then first team coach.

He was always destined to wear claret and blue, having been on schoolboy forms at Villa Park from the age of 12, which probably explains why he was always tempted back.

On leaving school, he graduated through Villa's youth and reserve teams before being handed his first taste of senior football in 1976, when he went on as a substitute against Manchester City at Maine Road. By the end of the following season he was a first team regular as well as winning a League Cup medal following a dramatic victory over Everton in the second replay of a marathon 1977 final.

Between 1979 and 1983, he didn't miss a single match as he became an integral figure in the most successful period of the club's history, adding league championship, European Cup and European Super Cup medals to his collection.

If you do not agree with any of my picks and wish to create your own seven of the best Villa players and tweet @TheFootballHour