Aston Villa: top 30 players - Number 14

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We continue our countdown of the greatest players in Aston Villa's history with a skilful forward who enjoys legendary status at the club thanks to his success both on the pitch and as a manager.

14. Brian Little.

Born: Horden, 25 November 1953

Aston Villa career: 1971-1980

Appearances: 302 Goals: 82

Before making his mark at Aston Villa as a manager, Little endeared himself to the claret and blue faithful through his performances on the pitch two decades earlier.

Though hailing from East Durham, the promising forward moved to Birmingham in 1969 to join Villa as an apprentice and signed professional terms two years later before helping the club win the 1972 FA Youth Cup.

He had already earned his first-team debut by that stage, having made two appearances for Vic Crowe's Third Division championship-winning side, and he soon established himself as a key member of the line-up with his flair, quick feet and creativity on the ball.

Despite being much more than just a goalscorer, he netted 24 times in 44 total appearances during the 1974-75 campaign to help Villa win the League Cup and secure promotion back to Division One, before hitting a career-best 26 goals two seasons later thanks to a fruitful partnership with fellow front man Andy Gray.

An ever-present in the side that term, his brace against Everton in the second replay of the 1977 League Cup final secured Ron Saunders' men their second trophy in three years, while a fourth-place league finish also marked the club's most successful top-flight campaign since 1932-33.

Little continued to star for Villa over the next few years, but his career was cut cruelly short in March 1980 when he suffered a knee injury in a game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The problem was not thought to be too serious at the time, but 11 months later he was forced to announce his retirement at the age of just 27 after failing to make a full recovery.

An 18-minute substitute appearance against Wales in 1975 would prove to be his one and only England appearance, but many Villa fans of that era will attest that he should have won many more.

Nonetheless, he would have an opportunity to further cements his legendary status at the club after returning to B6 as a manager in November 1994 following spells at Wolves, Darlington and Leicester City, respectively.

The team were sitting in the bottom four of the Premier League when he was named as Ron Atkinson’s successor, but the former Holte End hero managed to steer them to safety before guiding his revamped squad to fourth and fifth place finishes over the next two seasons, as well as the 1996 League Cup title.

His time in charge eventually came to an end in February 1998 when he resigned with the club in the bottom half of the table, but the side he built would still go on to seal a seventh-place finish and UEFA Cup qualification a few months later under John Gregory.

To this day he remains the last manager to win major silverware at Villa, and it is no surprise that his recent return to serve as an advisor to the under-fire board was greeted with widespread praise among supporters.

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

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