Aston Villa are one of the biggest clubs in the world. They have a proud history, a passionate support and have played in some huge matches.
Today I'm going to take a look back at five of the club's greatest games, but will you agree with my choices?
ASTON VILLA 1 BAYERN MUNICH 0
1982 EUROPEAN CUP FINAL
A great night for English football as the underdogs beat Bayern Munich to lift European Cup. No, I'm not talking about Chelsea's recent triumph, this description refers to the greatest night in the proud history of Aston Villa Football Club.
In February 1982 Ron Saunders stunned football. The po faced Villa manager quit the reigning league champions to join city rivals Birmingham City. Saunders was unhappy following Doug Ellis's reappearance on the Villa Park board. Saunders' defection to Villa's deadliest rivals appeared to have derailed their quest to win the European Cup. Who would the Birmingham club turn to into their hour of need?
Big names like Bobby Robson and Lawrie McMenemy were rumoured to be in the running and the Villa hierarchy were wary of Brian Clough's disastrous tenure at Leeds United. Fearful of rocking the boat, assistant manager Tony Barton was appointed.
The softly spoken boss oversaw the quarter-final win over Dynamo Kiev and a single Tony Morley goal saw the claret and blues edge out Anderlecht in the semi-final. The West Midlanders faced a stiff task in the final though. The Bayern side boosted an array of household names. German World Cup winner Paul Breitner captained the Bundesliga side. Bayen also had plenty of firepower to trouble Villa defence. European Footballer of the Year Karl Heinz Rummeniggle led the Bavarian attack.
The English champions suffered a blow on seven minutes. Goalkeeper Jimmy Rimmer was substituted following a shoulder injury. Young rookie keeper Nigel Spink was handed the task of keeping Bayern at bay. Chelmsford-born Spink had only made one first team appearance. As you would expect the Germans sensed an opportunity and tested the custodian frequently. Spink rose to the challenge and made a series of fine saves.
Having survived the Bayern barrage, Villa began to assert themselves. This new found confidence was rewarded when the Brummies broke the deadlock. Midway through the second half Villa striker Gary Shaw gained possession. The blond forward drifted infield and played a lovely ball to Tony Morley. Morley turned his full back inside out and squared the ball across the face of goal, the perfect pass found Peter Withe who tapped home.
Villa survived a late scare when Munich had a goal disallowed, Hoeness was correctly adjudged to have netted from an offside position.
Moments later Dennis Mortimer climbed the stairs to collect the silver trophy and Aston Villa were champions of Europe. Barton's men continued to collect silverware when they won the 1983 European Super Cup. The mighty Barcelona were beaten in an ill-tempered Villa Park affair.
Amazingly within a year Barton was sacked. Despite a respectable tenth place finish in the First Division, Tony Barton was shown the door by ruthless chairman Doug Ellis. Sadly Barton died in 1993. The likable manager was just 56 when he suffered a massive heart attack, but he will always be remembered as a Villa legend.
2008 may go down in British history for all the wrong reasons as the country was plunged into recession following the banking crisis. Conversely Aston Villa fans were enjoying life. After years in the doldrums the former European Champions were again a force to be reckoned with. This Holte End optimism began when Doug Ellis vacated his position as chairman.
Deadly Doug was never a favourite in B6, numerous demonstrations called for the supremo to loosen the purse strings. In a parting gift to the fans Ellis appointed Martin O'Neill as manager.
The Irishman was seen as the claret and blue messiah by success-starved fans. Hundreds of supporters greeted O'Neil as he arrived at Villa Park. The feel good factor had returned to Aston. A few weeks later American billionaire Randy Lerner completed his takeover. Lerner's millions enabled the Villains to flex their muscles in the transfer market.
The new boss swooped to sign Ashley Young from Watford. The £9 million winger was joined by fellow wide man James Milner. Home ground products like Gabriel Agbonlahor also blossomed under O'Neill.
Villa were going places again. In 2008 they threatened to break the big four stranglehold. Villa finished fifth, just missing out on Champions League qualification. The Lions were enjoying another successful campaign when Birmingham City paid a visit. The Blues were enduring a desperate season and were staring relegation in the face.
The Second City held its breath as the two old rivals locked horns. The home side made the breakthrough after 28 minutes when Ashley Young netted. The wide man's rasping drive flew past Maik Taylor. Villa went two up just before half time when John Carew headed home a Young free kick. The game was over as a contest 10 minutes into the second half. The Blues rear guard was in tatters when Carew tapped home a Barry cross. But Villa were not finished yet. Excellent interplay between Young and Agbonlahor ended when the former made it 4-0.
Mikeal Forsell pulled one back for the beleaguered visitors, but it was too little too late for City. A fine solo effort from Erdington-born Agbonlahor completed the Villa rout. Martin O'Neill's men went on to finish fifth again, while Alex McLeish's Blues were relegated.
ASTON VILLA 1 INTER MILAN 0 (AGGREGATE 1-1, VILLA WON 4 3 ON PENALTIES)
1994 UEFA CUP FIRST ROUND 2nd LEG
Villa had unfinished business with Inter Milan. Three years previously the Italian giants had overturned a two goal deficit to knock the Midlanders out of the UEFA Cup. Ron Atkinson's men had a psychological advantage in their revenge mission. The Villa side included Paul McGrath, Steve Staunton, Andy Townsend and Ray Houghton. The quartet had all played in the Republic Of Ireland's 1-0 win over Italy in the 1994 World Cup.
The first leg in the San Siro was a tight affair. An Inter side including Dennis Bergkamp won 1-0. With all to play for the two teams reconvened at Villa Park. The grand old stadium was rocking as the Lions got under way. Villa tore into their opponents from the off, Houghton and Kevin Richardson tried their luck from distance.
The home side were given an almighty scare when Nicola Berti's rocket beat Nigel Spink and thudded against the crossbar. But it was Big Ron's boys who made the crucial breakthrough. Inter defender Bergomi misjudged his clearing header and the ball fell into the path of the onrushing Houghton. With the goal at his mercy the Irishman beat Pagiluca.
Villa were now level on aggregate and the momentum had shifted towards the claret and blues. With time running out the Villains nearly grabbed a sensational winner. Substitute Guy Whittingham's magnificent chip hit the Inter bar and bounced to safety. Extra time failed to separate the two teams, so the gripping tie would be decided on penalties.
Both sides successfully converted their first three spot kicks. Fontolan missed for the Italians. Guy Whittingham then spurned the chance to send Villa through. The ex-Portsmouth striker saw his effort saved. The home side's deflation didn't last long. Sosa blasted his penalty over the bar.
Phil King stepped up and the full back belted home his spot kick to seal a memorable victory for Aston Villa. The glory night capped a successful period in Villa history. In 1993 Atkinson's side finished runners up in the Premier League. A year later the claret Brummies gained their revenge. Villa beat United 3-1 in the 1994 League Cup Final.
EVERTON 2 ASTON VILLA 3 (After Extra Time)
1977 LEAGUE CUP FINAL 2nd REPLAY
This marathon cup victory completed the rehabilitation of Aston Villa. The early seventies were a grim time for the Midlands giants. The great old club were plying their trade in the Third Division (now League One). To their great great credit the Villa fans never lost faith. In 1972 a crowd of over 30,000 watched the home win over Bournemouth.
Having escaped the third tier of English football, the Birmingham club appointed Ron Saunders as manager in 1974. Saunders made an instant impact when Villa regained their top flight status the following year. In a remarkable campaign, Saunders' men completed a double when they won the 1975 League Cup Final. A Ray Graydon goal clinched victory over Norwich City. The victory was particularly sweet for Saunders who had previously managed the Canaries.
Two years later the Villa reached another League Cup Final. Their opponents were an experienced and talented Everton side. The two sides couldn't be separated at Wembley, the drab encounter ended 0-0 after extra time. A few days later the two sides met again at Hillsborough. The cup looked to be heading for Brum when Everton defender Roger Kenyon put through his own goal. The Merseysides broke claret hearts when Bob Latchford scored a last-minute equaliser. The agony was compounded by the identity of the goalscorer, Latchford was a former Birmingham City striker.
Nearly a month later the second replay was staged at Old Trafford. Latchford scored from close range to give Gordon Lee's side a first half lead. The Midlands club wouldn't lie down and levelled in spectacular fashion. Villa captain Chris Nichol cracked a 35-yard piledriver past Lawson. The wonder goal appeared to knock the stuffing out of Everton.
Less then two minutes later Brian Little netted from the tightest of angles. Once again Saunders men were denied victory when Mick Lyons headed home. With less then two minutes of extra time remaining the final was finally settled. Little latched on to a right wing cross and tapped home.
Villa were back in business.
ASTON VILLA 2 MANCHESTER UNITED 1
1957 FA CUP FINAL
Regardless of the outcome, the 1957 FA Cup Final would go down in history. Aston Villa were attempting to win the cup for a record seventh time. Opponents Manchester United had an equally glittering incentive. Having been crowned League Champions, United were looking to be the first team in the 20th Century to win the league and cup double.
The odds certainly favoured the Old Trafford club. The Red Devils young side had caught the public's imagination. Brilliant young players like Duncan Edwards, Roger Byrne and Bobby Charlton were molded into a formidable force by manager Matt Busby. Surely Villa would be swept aside by the Busby Babes.
The game exploded into life in the sixth minute when United suffered an injury blow. Villa striker Peter McParland headed a right wing cross towards goal. The harmless attempt was easily fielded by United goalkeeper Ray Wood. As Wood gathered the ball he collided with the inrushing McParland. Wood took the brunt of the collision. The keeper broke his cheekbone and was forced to leave the field of play. In those pre-substitute days the favourites had to reshuffle. Defender Jackie Blanchflower took over in goal for the remainder of the game. Wood returned midway through the first half, the injured United keeper playing as a right winger.
These changes naturally disturbed the balance of Busby's side. In the 66th minute Villa got their noses in front. Johnny Dixon's right winger cross was headed home by McParland. Three minutes later Villa sealed their place in history. Leslie Smith's neat pass released Stan Crowther. He delivered a deep cross which landed at the the feet of Dixon. The skipper saw his shot hit the bar, but McParland was first to the rebound and hammered the ball past the helpless Blacnchflower. The Irishman's two goals silenced a section of the Wembley crowd.
A Tommy Taylor goal set up a grandstand finish, but the Villa hung on to to claim an historic victory.
Well there you have it. The five, in my opinion, greatest games in Aston Villa's history. Do you agree? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.