We continue our countdown of the top 30 players in Aston Villa's history with a bargain signing who developed into one of the top goalscoring midfielders of his generation and a World Cup hero.
29: David Platt
Born: Oldham, 10 June 1966
Aston Villa career: 1988-1991
Appearances: 155 Goals: 68
One of the best investments Aston Villa have ever made, Graham Taylor paid just £200,000 to sign Platt from Crewe Alexandra in early 1988 in a bid to strengthen the club’s Second Division promotion push.
It was a move which quite clearly paid off, as the Oldham-born midfielder not only went on to help the team bounce back to the top-flight at the first time of asking but also established himself as one of the leading players of his generation.
Combining exceptional pace and power, he found the back of the net at the rate of an out-and-out striker during his three-and-a-half-year stint in the Midlands, netting 15 times during his first full campaign at Villa to help them avoid the drop before topping the scoring charts with an astonishing 24 goals in back-to-back seasons.
His exploits saw him handed his first England cap in November 1989 and the following summer he proved an integral part of the late Sir Bobby Robson’s side at World Cup in Italy, becoming an overnight hero for his extra-time winner in the second-round clash with Belgium.
Unfortunately for Villa, his displays at the tournament also saw him attract attention from teams across Europe, and after a relegation-threatened season under Josef Vengols, the 1989-90 PFA Players’ Player of the Year was sold to Serie A side Bari in 1991 for a club record incoming fee of £5.5 million.
After going on to stints with Juventus and Sampdoria, respectively, he returned to England to win the domestic double with Arsenal before retiring in 1998 with a record of 27 goals in 62 international appearances and combined transfers fees topping £22 million.
Since going into coaching, the now-FC Pune City head coach has so far failed to make the same kind of impact as a manager, having endured ill-fated spells in charge of Sampdoria, Nottingham Forest – where he made a brief playing comeback – and England Under-21s.