How will AVILLAFAN XI work?
With football being on the firmly on the backburner due to the unprecedented and uncertain times we are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to try and produce an ‘Ultimate Team’ based on the votes of you, the followers and avid readers of our content at AVILLAFAN.
Each day or two, we will be holding a vote for a position and your job is as simple as picking your favourite player. There is an ‘OTHER’ option too where we would like you to state who and why for obvious reasons!
Follow us on Twitter @Avillafan, vote and please feel free to comment on your choice to be given a potential shout out within the subsequent post about the player selected.
Our initial vote was for which era you wanted us to start from and the votes were as follows:
1990-Present – 34%
1874-Present – 28%
2000-Present – 23%
1980-Present – 15%
AVILLAFAN XI (1990-Present) – GOALKEEPER
Mark Bosnich – 67%
Brad Friedel – 29%
Brad Guzan – 2%
Other – 2%
D.O.B. – 13th March 1972
Nationality – Australia
Aston Villa (1992-1999)
Appearances – 198 (Competitive)
Clean Sheets – 74
Mark Bosnich signed for Aston Villa from Australian side Sydney United in February 1992.
In his first season, he made 17 Premier League appearances as Ron Atkinson’s side finished runners-up to Manchester United who won their first title under Alex Ferguson.
The following season is what really propelled Bosnich into Villa folklore and he became a fans favourite.
Despite finishing 10th in a table that consisted of 22 teams, it was the League Cup exploits that stood out as Aston Villa would claim their fourth League Cup and first since 1976-77.
But there was a lot more to the story.
In the early rounds, Villa beat local rivals Birmingham City 2-0 on aggregate with 1-0 wins in both games. Bosnich did not play in the first leg at St Andrew’s as Villa legend Nigel Spink was between the posts.
A 4-1 win away at Sunderland in Round Three was followed up with an impressive 1-0 win at Highbury against a strong Arsenal side.
Round Four saw Villa on the road again and they overcame Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane with goals from Ray Houghton and Earl Barrett sealing a 2-1 victory.
The semi-final draw saw Villa handed what on paper was clearly the easiest opponents as Manchester United faced Sheffield Wednesday, meaning Ron Atkinson’s side would need to overcome Division One side Tranmere Rovers over two legs to reach Wembley.
However, as we all know, Villa never do things the easy way and the first leg saw Villa 3-0 down and facing humiliation. A late Dalian Atkinson goal meant a 3-1 deficit to overcome at Villa Park.
The second leg went on to be one of the most dramatic and exhilarating matches ever seen at Villa Park with drama aplenty.
Villa started quickly with goals from Dean Saunders and Shaun Teale but then came a key moment that directly involved Bosnich himself.
Tranmere forward John Aldridge was played through and tried to take the ball around Bosnich who brought him down. It was a huge moment as not only were Villa facing a penalty to put them behind on aggregate but the stopper was facing a possible red card.
Fate was smiling down on him as he somehow escaped even a booking.
Aldridge went on to score the penalty and held the lead until the 88th minute when Villa finally got back on level terms on aggregate as Dalian Atkinson repeated his late goal at Prenton Park by heading home to take the game into extra time and then penalties.
The shootout started well for both sides with Villa leading 3-2 after five penalties had been taken.
Tranmere’s third penalty taken by Ged Brannan was struck well but Bosnich dived to his right to make a fine save and Villa Park erupted.
The pendulum then took a dramatic swing as at 4-3, Ugo Ehiogu stepped up to send Villa to Wembley.
A short run-up ensued and Ehiogu hit the ball well but it smashed off the crossbar and Tranmere scored to make it 4-4 on penalties.
Skipper, Kevin Richardson was next up and he fired over giving Tranmere an improbable chance to score and reach Wembley.
Again, the penalty was stuck well, this time by Liam O’Brien and Bosnich dived to his right and kept it out meaning sudden death.
Tony Daley made it 5-4 and it was now Villa’s turn to be one save away from Wembley.
Ian Nolan had the unenviable task of converting and hit the ball to Bosnich’s left but at a height perfect for ‘Bozzie’.
A third save in the shootout sent Villa to Wembley and sparked wild celebrations as the fans flooded on to the pitch to celebrate with the players.
League Cup Final
Villa went on to beat League Champions and one of the most iconic sides to have played in the Premier League in Manchester United 3-1, sealing both the trophy and a place in the UEFA Cup for the following season as a result.
Mark Bosnich’s flamboyant nature and agility, pulling off eye-catching save only added to the affections that Villa fans held for the Australian.
Following on from the League Cup win, Bosnich saved two penalties against Tottenham Hotspur to help Villa avoid defeat and these were incredible, his fourth and fifth penalty saves from open play that season.
The 1994-95 season was a largely forgettable campaign as Villa scraped to safety and it wouldn’t be long into the 1995-96 season that manager Ron Atkinson would move on from Villa Park.
Villa hero Brian Little took over and reshaped the side. However, Bosnich was kept on and it went on to be an incredible season in a Premier League that was rapidly growing in stature and quality with transfer fees started to grow quickly by the standards back then.
Villa finished fourth in the league and won the League Cup again in a one-sided final at Wembley with a 3–0 victory over Leeds United.
These were Villa’s last two major honours and to have been in goal for both finals clearly cements Bosnich’s legacy as one of the Villa greats.
Bozzie didn’t come without his controversial moments too.
There was a high tackle in 1994 that knocked out Tottenham Hotspur and Germany forward Jurgen Klinsmann.
A few years later, the Spurs fans were deriding him for the tackle made and Bosnich responded with a derogatory salute that landed him a £1,000 fine and a formal F.A. statement was issued regarding his actions.
Bosnich would go on to spend three more seasons at Villa Park.
Much to the disappointment of many fans, he joined Manchester United on a free transfer.
He went on to play briefly for Chelsea before a return to Australia for short spells with Central Coast Mariners and Sydney Olympic.