We continue our countdown of the greatest players in Aston Villa's history with a Scottish striker who became the youngest winner of the PFA Players' Player of the Year award during his time at the club.
10. Andy Gray
Born: Glasgow, 20 November 1955
Aston Villa career: 1975-79, 1985-87
Appearances: 210 Goals: 78
Before Aston Villa’s glory years of the early 1980s, Gray proved a pivotal player in re-establishing the club among the top-flight’s elite.
The Scottish striker was signed from Dundee United in October 1975 for £105,000 after catching Ron Saunders’ eye by scoring nearly 50 goals for the Tangerines before the age of 20, and he wasted little time in making a similar impact south of the border.
Villa had been back in Division One for just two months after an eight-year spell in the lower leagues at the time of his arrival, and the promising forward went on to provide 10 goals towards their successful survival bid.
That was just a small sign of things to come, however, as the 1976-77 campaign would prove to be Gray’s coming-out party. Benefiting from a splendid partnership with John Deehan and Brian Little, the Glasgow native hit a team-leading 29 goals in all competition to secure Saunders’ side a fourth-place league finish and the League Cup title, while also winning the PFA Young Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards.
Already a full Scotland international by that stage, his reputation grew yet further the following season when he hit 20 more goals and helped the club reach the UEFA Cup quarter-finals, but a falling-out with Saunders would spell the beginning of the end of his claret and blue career.
The powerful front man eventually left Villa to join Midlands neighbours Wolverhampton Wanderers in September 1979 for a then-English record £1.5 million and continue to bang in the goals over the next few seasons.
As well as netting the winner in the 1980 League Cup final, he was also on target for Everton in both their 1984 FA Cup triumph over Watford and 1985 European Cup Winners’ Cup victory against Rapid Vienna, before making a surprise return to Villa Park just one month later.
The team had started to fall into decline at that point, though, and Gray failed to recapture his past form as they were relegated to the second tier two years later and he subsequently left for West Bromwich Albion in September 1987.
After going on to spells with Rangers and non-league side Cheltenham Town, he later worked as Ron Atkinson’s assistant manager back at Villa Park but spent just one season in the role before beginning his television career.
Aston Villa: top 30 players
Number 30, Number 29, Number 28, Number 27, Number 26, Number 25, Number 24, Number 23, Number 22, Number 21, Number 20, Number 19, Number 18, Number 17, Number 16, Number 15, Number 14, Number 13, Number 12, Number 11