Aston Villa vs Birmingham: Picking a Combined XI of Second City Derby Stars

One city, two clubs, two excellent sets of players over the years.

Birmingham and Aston Villa may not have been top flight regulars over the past few seasons, but these two have a long history of playing host to some excellent talent.

Whether they've donned the claret, the blue or both, England's second largest city has been home to some of the best players the UK has seen. I mean, come on, in the case of one player he was affectionately known as 'God'... that doesn't get flung around all too often, does it?

But more on that later. Instead, let's likely offend a whole host of people from the city of Birmingham by making a combined XI of players from both sets of teams.

GK - Mark Bosnich (Aston Villa)

The Aussie enjoyed two spells at Manchester United during his career, but he is best remembered for his seven-year spell at Villa Park. He was pivotal in winning Villa two League Cup trophies during his time there, where his excellent knack of saving penalties put him and his club in good stead.

RB - Mark Delaney (Aston Villa)

Considering injuries hampered his career, the fact he is still so highly revered by those with a claret affiliation shows just how consistent Delaney was. He was efficient and determined, earning legendary status among the Villa faithful.

Not a glamourous defender by any means, but he loved to get stuck in (probably why his knees were so bad) and won over the hearts of the Villans supporters.

CB - Trevor Smith (Birmingham)

A former captain of the Blues, there is a strong case to make for Smith being the best central defender to ever turn out for the club.

Boasting all the attributes needed to play the position, his longevity at St Andrew's also ensured he would be fondly remembered, making 430 appearances between 1953 and 1964 and winning a
Second Division championship and an League Cup crown.

CB - Paul McGrath (Aston Villa)

Remember 'God'? Yeah, that's McGrath. His seven season stay with Villa saw him become one of only six defenders to win the PFA Players' Player of the Year Award, and he's widely regarded as the best player in Aston Villa's history, let alone the best defender.

He played his part in the best Villans side to grace the Premier League, coming within a whisker of lifting the top flight crown. He did secure silverware at the club, though, claiming two League Cup trophies.

LB - Steve Staunton (Aston Villa)

It feels wrong to leave Stephen Carr out, even if we put him in at left-back, but Staunton deserves his spot in this side for his displays across two spells with the club. And Delaney got the nod at right back, so, tough.

Part of the League Cup winning side of the 90s as well as the UEFA Intertoto Cup winning group of 2001, he was also known for his goalscoring ability from defence having netted 18 times for the club.

RM - James Milner (Aston Villa)

His versatility seen at Liverpool is nothing new, as Milner would often line up anywhere across the midfield, and do a darn fine job it, too. On the right hand side of midfield he was a work horse, giving his all in every game but being far more nimble than he's given credit for.

It was his fine performances at Villa Park that earned him a big-money move to Manchester City in 2010. Since then, well, it's gone OK for Milly.

CM - Garry Pendrey (Birmingham)

Across his 360 appearances for the Blues since coming through the youth ranks, Pendrey played in a variety of positions. On occasion he could be seen fielded at left-back, but his superb tackling ability meant he was best suited in central midfield.

In 1972 he was vital in securing promotion from the Second Division, but three years before that he made Blues history by becoming the club's youngest ever captain aged just 20 years and six months old.

CM - Gareth Barry (Aston Villa)

No player in Premier League history has made more appearances in the competition than Barry, who enjoyed 21 remarkable seasons in the top flight. The vast majority of those came for Villa, who he captained and played 441 times for.

Goals may have been less frequent in his latter years, but Barry had a magic left foot that was regularly on show at Villa Park during his time with the club. A mainstay in the side during their high league finishes under Martin O'Neill, he is fully deserving of a spot in this team.

LM - Ashley Young (Aston Villa)

It's easy to forget how talented Young was in his prime, as he more lately just became an east target whenever Manchester United struggled for form. He's left there now and is at Inter, so he can't be all that bad. can he?

At Villa he certainly wasn't, where he shone on the left side of midfield. His wicked left foot and pace meant he was a handful for any defender, which is why it was no surprise that the Red Devils forked out £17m for him in 2011.

ST - Trevor Francis (Birmingham)

It would be wrong to not include a player often considered the best in his former club's history, wouldn't it? And truth be told, there is no way Francis doesn't get in this lineup anyway.

Britain's first £1m footballer was also the youngest debutant in the club's history prior to Jude Bellingham surpassing him in 2019. He racked up 329 appearances and 133 goals during his time in the Second City, and would return to manage the club over a five-year spell, narrowly missing out on promotion and losing the League Cup final on penalties in 2001.

ST - Dwight Yorke (Aston Villa & Birmingham)

He only spent one half-season at St Andrew's, scoring twice, so the focus of Yorke's inclusion is solely on his spell with Villa.

Starting out with the club in the First Division and remaining at Villa Park as the Premier League was formed, his goal rate in the three final full seasons he spent with the club were his finest in claret and blue. In total, he bagged 98 goals in 287 games, which is why United (again) saw it fit to snap him up where he achieved outstanding success.

He still notched a trophy with Villa, though, after claiming the 1996 League Cup.

Source : 90min