AVILLAFAN XI (1990-Present) – LEFT WINGER
Ashley Young – 53%
Jack Grealish – 46%
Other – 1%
D.O.B. – 9th July 1985
Nationality – England
Aston Villa (2007-2011)
Appearances – 190 (Competitive)
Goals – 37 Assists – 59
Ashley Young was signed by Aston Villa in 2007 for an initial fee of £8,000,000 from Watford.
The left-winger made a huge impression for the Hornets and he became a regular in the first team early on.
In 2005-2006, Young was seen as one of the key players in helping Watford to gain promotion to the Premier League which added to already impressive reputation.
In January 2007, Young was targetted by a number of clubs and opted for a move to Villa Park.
At the time, he was Villa’s most expensive signing and he would go to prove his worth.
With only the second half of the season to play following a January move, Young wasted no time in impressing the Villa faithful.
Scoring on his debut despite defeat away to Newcastle United and putting in a host of Man of the Match performances, Villa’s latest recruit earned his first call up to the England squad.
2007-2008 was a standout year for Young in what would be his first full season for Aston Villa.
17 assists would see him second only to Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas and he made it into Premier League team of the Year.
This was a particularly impressive feat as Young was the only outfield player outside of the top four teams to be named within this team.
The side would finish 6th under Martin O’Neill and notably were the third highest scorers that season with 71 goals. Only champions Manchester United (80) and third placed Arsenal (74) scored more.
On top of the 17 assists, Young would also notch up 9 goals too which made for impressive reading.
One of the stand out performances of that season was Villa’s 5-1 demolition of Birmingham City.
Young scored the opening goal with a rasping strike from the edge of the box in front of the Holte End and provided the second goal scored by John Carew with a well delivered free kick which the Norwegian striker would head in.
He would also score the fourth goal with a solo effort to rub salt into the wounds of the despairing away support.
Villa’s next campaign started early with an Intertoto Cup game against Danish side Odense in mid July.
Young would score the winner in the second leg at Villa Park and the team would go on to beat FH (Iceland) and PFC Litex Lovech (Bulgaria) to qualify for the Uefa Cup Group Stage where they would take on Ajax (Netherlands), Slavia Prague (Czech Republic), MSK Zilina (Slovakia) and Hamburger SV (Germany).
Villa would qualify from the group winning against Ajax and Slavia Prague before defeats to their other two opponents.
The knockout round of 32 would see O’Neill’s side take on CSKA Moscow which would be a turning point in the entire season.
In the Premier League, the team were doing incredibly well and looked on course to gatecrash the widely regard ‘top four’.
At one point the side would sit eight points clear of Arsenal and this was even more important when the two sides met at Villa Park on Boxing Day.
Despite numerous chances and two goal line clearances, Villa trailed 2-0 and looked to be handing three much needed points to Arsenal.
However in the second half, Villa would fight back to draw 2-2 with a Gareth Barry penalty and a last ditch strike from surprise scorer Zat Knight.
It felt like Villa were set for a special season.
In the new year Villa would take on CSKA Moscow and despite drawing 1-1 in the first leg at Villa Park, they would lose 2-0 in Moscow.
The fixture itself became a widely discussed issue due to the sheer inexperience within the team that Martin O’Neil picked.
The thought process was to focus on the push for Champions League football but it would backfire as not only were Villa out of the UEFA Cup but they would follow this up with failure to win in any of their next eight league games.
Another sixth place finish would leave many Villa fans thinking of what could have been.
As for Young, another 9 goals and 15 assists would propel his name into the mix for a move to a Champions League side despite signing a new deal in November.
Performances like Everton away were fine examples of Young’s ability and talents as Villa would twice lead only for Joleon Lescott to equalise.
The second equaliser was in the final minutes of normal time and it would cancel out Young’s goal to put Villa 2-1 up.
Entering added time, it looked like Villa had thrown away two points but Young would race through in the dying seconds and slot past Tim Howard to send the away support into raptures.
It was a performance live on Sky in a prime slot and for many it is the game that many associate most with Young’s time at Villa.
Despite the disappointment of the slipping to sixth, Young was awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year award, the first to win this award from Aston Villa since Gary Shaw in 1980-81.
This was a well deserved personal accolade and the fact that he became the first ever player to win three Premier League Player of the Month awards in a year made him an obvious choice.
2009-2010 saw a third successive sixth place finish in the league with the fourth best defensive record.
On the European front, Villa would lose to Rapid Vienna in the playoff round on away goals despite winning 2-1 at Villa Park.
The season was probably best remembered for two trips to Wembley as Villa reached the League Cup final losing to Manchester United 2-1.
Villa would take the lead from the penalty spot but the decision to not send off Nemanja Vidic due to his foul on Gabriel Agbonlahor was a huge talking point so early on in the game.
The F.A. Cup saw Villa defeat Blackburn Rovers, Brighton and Hove Albion, Crystal Palace and Reading to reach a semi-final against a very strong Chelsea side that would beat Villa 3-0.
2010-2011 would see Martin O’Neil leave before the start of the season and there was talk of trouble behind the scenes.
Kevin MacDonald would take over as caretaker manager until Gérard Houllier would assume control.
Villa would finish 9th and started to play some good football towards the end of the season.
Inevitably, Aston Villa would lose Ashley Young to Manchester United at the end of the season where he went on to win all three domestic trophies, as well as a Europa League title and a Community Shield.
Young has recently moved to Inter Milan, gaining an assist on his debut and scoring his first goal against Lazio.