Wilfred Bouma names three former Aston Villa teammates who had something special

The former defender says that his time as first-choice left-back at Villa Park was the happiest period of his career.

Former Aston Villa defender Wilfred Bouma has told the club's official website that his time playing as first-choice left-back at Villa Park was the happiest period of his career, and has named who he believes to have been the three best players he played with at the club.

Bouma joined Villa from PSV Eindhoven in 2005 and after initially struggling to establish himself under David O'Leary he became a regular fixture in Martin O'Neill's side, and was an ever-present as the club finished sixth in the 2007-08 season.

The Dutchman had already become a fan favourite at Villa Park by the time he suffered a terrible ankle injury at the beginning of the 2008-09 campaign, but he failed to recover his place in the team after nearly 18 months out and returned to PSV in 2010 after making 90 appearances for the club.

The 37-year-old, who retired from the game in 2013, admitted that he looks back on that period eight years ago as one of the happiest of his career, and highlighted Gareth Barry, Ashley Young, and Stiliyan Petrov as three "special" players he played alongside.

Bouma told the club's website: "It was a great time. If I look at it overall, I had some wonderful years at the club. At one stage I was playing my best football. I really enjoyed it. In the beginning, I had a tough time - in that first season - but after that I earned my place in the team and it was just wonderful afterwards. Overall I can look back at a great time at Villa.

"We had Gareth Barry, Ashley Young and Stiliyan Petrov. For me those three had something special. When they were on the pitch they gave you a little bit extra. The awareness of all three of them was really important.

We didn't seem to get tired and from my own personal perspective I was stronger than ever. That was a really great feeling. The memories of scoring in the 4-1 win over Newcastle and winning the derby over Blues 5-1 are moments I will never forget. I enjoyed it the most when I was playing at my best in the top-flight. I have seen a lot but my time at Villa during that period was the time I enjoyed the most in football."

Bouma, like most of the club's ex-players, will likely have been shocked by the club's decline this season as they face up to life outside the top flight for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Villa have just two games of their Premier League era remaining, with a home clash against rejuvenated Newcastle United on Saturday followed by a final-day trip to Arsenal.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch