Aston Villa: top 30 players - Number 24

Aston Villa

We continue our countdown of the greatest players in Aston Villa's history with one of the best goalscorers of the Premier League era.

24. Dwight Yorke

Born: Canaan, Tobago, 3 November 1971

Aston Villa career: 1989-1998

Appearances: 287 Goals: 97

Discovered by former Aston Villa manager Graham Taylor during a club tour of the West Indies in 1989, few could have predicted at the time that Yorke would develop into one of the most talented strikers of his generation.

Offered a trial at Villa Park shortly after impressing for a Tobagonian XI in a friendly match against the claret and blues, "The Smiling Assassin” was subsequently signed from his local club Signal Hill for £120,000 and went on to make his First Division debut as a relative unknown in March 1990.

Initially playing on the right wing, he hit double-digit goals just once over the next five seasons, but upon being moved up top ahead of the 1995-96 campaign, his strike-rate went through the roof.

Soon establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s leading marksmen, Yorke netted a team-leading 25 times in 48 appearances that season, including the final goal of the 3-0 demolition of Leeds United in the League Cup final – his sixth strike of the competition.

He added 36 more over the next two seasons to finish as Villa’s top scorer for three years running, but by then the Trinidad and Tobago international's predatory instincts in the box were obviously no secret to the rest of the top-flight.

Manchester United had been keeping close tabs on him since his breakout season under Brian Little, and after a long drawn-out transfer saga, Yorke finally made the switch to Old Trafford in August 1998 for a club record incoming fee of £12.6 million.

"If I'd had a gun, I would have shot him,” Little’s successor, John Gregory, infamously declared at the time of his star man’s transfer request, knowing full well of the talent that would win a Premier League Golden Boot and help clinch United an historic treble just nine months later.

By the time he moved across Lancashire to join Blackburn Rovers in July 2002, Yorke had added 64 more goals to his résumé along with three Premier League titles, the FA Cup, Champions League and Intercontinental Cup, but the best years of his career had long since passed.

A subsequent spell at Birmingham City did little to mend his relationship with the Villa fans who remained angry about the manner of his departure, but many can still appreciate what he gave the club during his nine-year stay.

Aston Villa: top 30 players

Number 30, Number 29, Number 28, Number 27, Number 26, Number 25

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