As we enter remembrance weekend, it’s important to remember those of the Villa family who serve and have served in our armed forces. Perhaps most poignantly we acknowledge those who served in the war which began our remembrance tradition. These men were often in the prime of their careers, yet volunteered to serve selflessly.
Some players continued to achieve as footballers after the end of the war. Some were never the same again, and some never returned at all. Today we remember them.
Despite starting what you’re about to read about a month before the transfer window’s closing (the delay in part due to laziness on weekends and being busy during the week), if I were to say this year’s summer transfer window marks the 20th anniversary of Aston Villa’s best summer signing of the 21st century, it could be forgiven for thinking I was talking about Juan Pablo Angel or at a stretch, David Ginola. Luc Nilis is the name that should have sprung to mind.
A week after the battling draw at Stoke, Jack Grealish returned and whilst we told ourselves not to get too carried away, we knew things could now improve and they did in astonishing fashion.
Frank Lampard’s playoff chasing Derby were the first in line for a resurgent, hungry Villa and were blown away in one of the most dominant first half performances ever seen at Villa Park – a 4-0 win and a Grealish wondergoal marked the return of the good times.
Summer 1987. Like in 2016, we’d been relegated as the worst team in the top flight. Promoted 12 months later on goal difference, Villa were back and looking to re-establish themselves amongst the very best.