I always remember feeling proud of my team as a kid, when I read a small match report in the newspaper detailing that Aston Villa had beaten England 3-2 at Villa Park on May 18th 1982.
Eight days later after beating a decent England team, Villa went to Rotterdam and beat Bayern Munich 1-0 to clinch the European Cup. Was there any team we couldn’t beat?!
As well as providing a warm-up for the England team, prior to the 1982 World Cup in Spain, the match served as Brian Little’s testimonial game. One of Villa’s finest players in recent decades, the striker had his playing career cruelly cut short due to a knee injury when just 26-years-old.
It’s sad to think of the legacy that Villa could have built in the eighties if both Little and Gary Shaw hadn’t been compromised by serious injury. Certainly, there might have been extra silverware in the eighties and a knock-on effect of avoiding relegation in 1987.
Little scored twice in the game he played just the first half-hour of (due to his injury). Looking back, the crowd of 9,229, was pretty low considering such a game was honouring a Villa legend.
The England team was: Corrigan, Mills, Sansom, Wilkins, Foster, Robson, Keegan, Coppell, Brooking, Rix, Devonshire.
Villa also fielded England internationals of their own including Jimmy Rimmer, Tony Morley, Gordon Cowans and Peter Withe.
England haven’t played a club team since getting beat by 6-0 by Arsenal in Martin Keown’s testimonial game in 2004, but in the 1980’s such games were fairly frequent. In the warm-up to the 1982 World Cup in Spain, England played a few warm-up/testimonial games against Fulham, Athletic Bilbao, Manchester City and Aston Villa.
It’s just a shame that Surely, Cowans and Morley didn’t accompany Withe in the final England World Cup squad.
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