We continue our countdown of the greatest players in Aston Villa's history with a Scottish defender who wore the claret and blue shirt over 650 times.
12. Charlie Aitken
Born: Edinburgh, 5 January 1942
Aston Villa career: 1959-1976
Appearances: 660 Goals: 16
With a club record 660 appearances, Aitken’s 17-year stay at Aston Villa saw play under six different managers across three divisions, as well as collect a League Cup winner’s medal.
Born in Edinburgh, the Scottish defender joined Villa in August 1959 following a successful trial and went on to make his first-team debut at the age of 18 in the final match of the 1960-61 campaign.
He established himself as the team’s first-choice left-back the following season and amazingly held the position until early 1976 before joining the NASL’s New York Cosmos.
An ever-present on five occasions, he proved a stoic presence on an ever-changing backline during a period of turmoil at B6, as boardroom battles and mismanagement saw the club relegated to the third tier for the first time in their history in 1970.
They won promotion back to the top-flight only five years later, however, with Aitken featuring in all 42 league games that season to help Ron Saunders’ men finish as Division Two runners-up to Manchester United.
The former Scotland Under-23 international had also been part of the team that beat Norwich City 1-0 in the 1975 League Cup final a month earlier and was subsequently named Midlands Footballer of the Year.
He spent one more year at Villa Park, but after seeing his playing opportunities start to become limited, the long-serving full-back opted to head to the USA in the summer of 1976 to see out his career alongside the likes of Pele and Franz Beckenbauer.
Aston Villa: top 30 players