Team of the Decade: Aston Villa

Team of the decade aston villa

In the latest of Last Word on Football’s new series, we look at the players and managers who have made it into the Aston Villa Team of the Decade.

It was a decade full of ups and downs for the Midlands side with relegation from the Premier League confirmed in 2016 as Villa registered the third-lowest points total in Premier League history. The club has also been in transition off the pitch with two different takeovers in the space of three years. However, the decade ended in success as Villa secured promotion back to the Premier League after a record-breaking winning run to the Championship play-offs.

Aston Villa Team of the Decade

Manager: Dean Smith

Without a doubt, he is Villa’s manager of the decade. Birmingham born Smith has ignited his boyhood club since arriving in October 2018. He guided Villa back to the Premier League and set a new consecutive winning record of ten games. The boyhood Villa fan has captured the imagination of the fans with his attractive style of play and passion he has for the club. No other manager comes close in the past decade to Smith. He is doing a terrific job and long may that continue.

Formation: 3-4-1-2

Aston Villa have lacked consistent full-backs over the past decade with none making the desired impression to warrant a place in this team. I have gone with a back three to praise some of Villa’s outstanding performers.

Aston Villa Defence of the Decade

Goalkeeper: Sam Johnstone

The then Manchester United loanee sparkled during his 18 months on loan at Villa. Johnstone became a vital cog in Villa’s promotion charge under Steve Bruce which ended in disappointment. He made 66 appearances for Villa and kept more clean sheets than any other keeper in the Championship during his loan spell. Johnstone was a terrific servant to Villa and certainly warrants his place in this team.

Centre Back: Ron Vlaar

Colloquially known as ‘Concrete Ron’ the Dutch defender was terrific during his three years at Villa Park. Signed by Paul Lambert in 2012, Vlaar became a fixture in the Villa defence helping them survive relegation in each season he was there. His robust defending and leadership skills were clear to see. He will be fondly remembered for his strong performances and a thunderous goal in 6-1 win over Sunderland in 2013. Vlaar was brilliant for Villa and many fans were disappointed to see him go. However, there is no doubt that he deserves his place in the team of the decade.

Centre Back: James Chester

James Chester has been a loyal, hardworking servant for Aston Villa since arriving in 2016. Chester arrived following Villa’s relegation to the Championship and has been a fans favourite ever since. He played a vital role in Villa’s last two promotion campaigns with the latter ending in success at Wembley. He became Villa captain in 2018 following John Terry’s departure and his leadership skills have been evident both on and off the pitch. A fully deserved place in this team for Villa’s number five.

Centre Back: Tyrone Mings

When Villa signed Tyrone Mings in January 2019, the agreement gave Mings an opportunity to play football and build his fitness. His arrival at Villa became a match made in heaven. Mings played a vital role as Villa charged towards the play-offs and promotion. He has endeared himself to the fans and it’s no surprise Villa made him their club-record signing. His organisation and leadership at the back have been vital in the past year and his terrific performances earned him an England call up. Mings is loved by the Villa fans and the feeling is certainly mutual.

Aston Villa Midfield of the Decade

Defensive Midfielder: Fabian Delph

Fabian Delph was a consistent performer in the heart of the Villa midfield. His six years at Villa saw Premier League stability as well as four trips to Wembley. Delph made over 100 appearances and arguably his best performance came at Wembley in 2015 as Villa beat Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-finals. He also captained the Villa side during his six years at the club and was a firm fans favourite. However, his relationship soured when he left for Manchester City in 2015 but he was a fantastic servant for Villa.

Centre Midfield: John McGinn

Super John McGinn has enjoyed an amazing spell at Aston Villa since arriving in 2018 from Hibernian. He has become a firm favourite with the fans for his tenacious style of play and warrior-like performances. He was outstanding as Villa secured promotion in his first season in charge winning Player’s player of the year and fans player of the year. His best moment thus far was scoring the winning goal at Wembley as Villa secured promotion. McGinn has adapted to Premier League football brilliantly and is getting better and better for club and country.

Centre Midfield: Stiliyan Petrov

The Bulgarian midfielder was a terrific servant for Aston Villa during his seven years at the club. Petrov led by example and regularly pushed Villa forward. While success dwindled in his latter years at Villa, Petrov fully deserves his place in the team. He made 185 appearances for Villa before his career was tragically cut short in 2013. Petrov was diagnosed with acute leukaemia which forced him into retirement. Villa supported him during his recovery, and he is forever grateful to the club. The fans idolised him and certainly, he will be remembered as one of Villa’s greatest midfielders.

Centre Midfield: Conor Hourihane

The Irish magician has been a fixture in the Villa side since arriving in 2017. Hourihane has been Villa’s go-to man when it comes to goals from midfield. Known for his dangerous set-pieces, Hourihane played a vital role in Villa’s two promotion campaigns and has adapted to Premier League football brilliantly. He also became the first midfielder since David Platt to reach double figures in terms of goals in a single season. A remarkable achievement for a player who has worked his way up through the leagues. Villa’s number 14 has been mister consistent for several seasons and thoroughly deserves his place in this team.

Attacking Midfielder: Jack Grealish

The local lad living the dream. Jack Grealish is turning into one of England’s brightest midfielders. Since bursting on the scene in 2015, Grealish has had his struggles but has certainly matured in recent seasons. Grealish made himself known under Tim Sherwood in 2015 as he helped Villa escape relegation from the Premier League. However, injuries saw him miss the majority of Villa’s relegation season.

His three seasons in the Championship have allowed him to grow up and concentrate on his football.  Since Dean Smith gave him the captaincy, Villa’s number 10 hasn’t looked back. Grealish was integral in Villa’s promotion and has emerged as one of the best creative players in the Premier League. He has surpassed his best goal return in a single season and is on the verge of an England call up. Grealish is going from strength to strength and a Villa team of the decade wouldn’t be complete without him.

Aston Villa Forwards of the Decade

Striker: Tammy Abraham

The young striker was outstanding in Villa’s promotion campaign. The striker notched 26 goals in 40 games for Villa and became the first striker since Andy Gray to score 25 goals in a single season. He became a firm favourite at Villa Park and will be forever loved by the fans. While he spent just a year at the club, Abraham made a huge impact and certainly, Villa has a place in his heart.

Striker: Christian Benteke

The Big Belgian striker was a terrific servant for Aston Villa during his three years at the club. He scored 49 goals in 101 matches as he regularly kept Villa in the Premier League. Benteke’s arrival in 2012 brought plenty of excitement and scored an impressive 19 goals in his debut season in English football. Benteke’s departure in 2015 upset the fans and ultimately began Villa’s demise in 2015/16. The Belgian remains a firm favourite with the fans and thoroughly deserves to take the final place in Villa’s team of the decade.


Tom Heaton

Alan Hutton

John Terry

Robert Snodgrass

Idrissa Gueye

Gabriel Agbonlahor

Andreas Weimann

Main Photo