Daily Mirror


‘Villa would have dom­i­nated the 80s but for re­turn of

- BY JAMES NURSEY BY JAMES NURSEY BY JAMES NURSEY @James­Nursey Sports · Soccer · Aston Villa Football Club · Aston, West Midlands · Rotterdam · David Villa · FC Bayern Munich · Bayern Munich II · England national football team · England · Football League First Division · Tricky · FC Barcelona · Barcelona · Houston Dynamo · Berlin · Kiev · FC Dynamo Kyiv · R.S.C. Anderlecht · The Football Association · Tony Daley · Villa Park · Ron Saunders · Valur · Reykjavik · Peter Withe · Gordon Cowans · Pat Heard · Kenny Swain · Ken McNaught · Andy Blair

NIGEL SPINK was As­ton Villa’s life­line in Rot­ter­dam – and he has stepped up in the cur­rent emer­gency too.

When No.1 Jimmy Rim­mer suf­fered a neck in­jury, goal­keeper Spink (above with goalscorer Peter Withe) stepped off the bench after only 10 min­utes of the 1982 Euro­pean Cup fi­nal.

The rookie went on to pro­duce sev­eral bril­liant saves in

Villa’s 1-0 win over Bay­ern Mu­nich.

Spink (right) re­mains a club leg­end to this day after mak­ing 460 ap­pear­ances for Villa in 19 years from 1977.

He is now one of sev­eral pop­u­lar ex-play­ers who have been ring­ing el­derly fans in the coro­n­avirus lock­down to raise their spir­its.

Spink, 61, ex­plained: “We were each given a list of about 12 fans to con­tact.

“I’d like to think the calls brought a lit­tle pos­i­tiv­ity to peo­ple – but on a per­sonal level I also found it quite

PETER WITHE ad­mits the great­est goal in As­ton Villa’s his­tory was a flukey mis-hit.

The for­mer Eng­land striker’s name has gone down in Villa folk­lore for his win­ner against Bay­ern Mu­nich in the 1982 Euro­pean Cup Fi­nal.

But he knows he was lucky to score with a right-foot fin­ish from five-yards out in Rot­ter­dam, which went in off a post with the goal gap­ing.

Withe, 68, re­called: “Tony Morley turned a de­fender one way and then the other.

“Klaus Au­gen­thaler was mark­ing me, but he sensed the dan­ger and moved across to cover which left me un­marked as I reached re­ward­ing too. It was up­lift­ing.

“I’m pretty sure there were at least a cou­ple of fans who didn’t be­lieve I was who I said I was when I first in­tro­duced my­self.

“There were oth­ers who straight away started reel­ing off their mem­o­ries of fa­mous matches and oc­ca­sions. “There was ob­vi­ously a lot of talk about the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and ev­ery­thing that has been go­ing on, in­clud­ing what is hap­pen­ing with the foot­ball sea­son.

“I think it is im­por­tant we keep in touch with peo­ple as much as pos­si­ble at this time.”

Den­nis Mor­timer, Tony Morley, Des Brem­ner, Gor­don Cowans, Pat Heard, Kenny Swain , Ken McNaught, Ian Tay­lor, Tony Da­ley, Shaun Teale, Andy Blair and Brian Lit­tle have also made calls.

The idea was set up by the Villa Foun­da­tion in part­ner­ship with the For­mer Play­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion. the six-yard box. Tony drove the ball hard across the goal­mouth, but it seemed to hap­pen in slow mo­tion.

“I said to my­self, ‘Con­cen­trate’. The ball hit a divot as it reached me and it half hit my shin and half hit my an­kle be­fore fly­ing against a post and in.

“I am con­vinced that if I had hit it prop­erly the keeper would have saved it, but he wasn’t ex­pect­ing that.

“I was too close to the goal to run to our fans so I ran into the net to cel­e­brate.”

Team-mate Gor­don Cowans, a keen golfer, has al­ways de­scribed the cru­cial strike as a shank, in­sist­ing: “Withey did his best to miss it, but some­how it went in.”

IT re­mains the great­est high of Tony Morley’s ca­reer yet As­ton Villa’s his­toric Euro­pean Cup tri­umph over Bay­ern Mu­nich is also tinged with frus­tra­tion.

Villa, the First Divi­sion cham­pi­ons, lifted the fa­mous tro­phy in Rot­ter­dam 38 years ago.

Tricky winger Morley teed up Peter Withe’s 67th-minute win­ner after some su­perb skill to beat Hans Weiner.

He still cher­ishes the feat, and his win­ners’ medal eight months later from the Su­per Cup against Barcelona.

But the tu­mul­tuous pol­i­tics of Villa Park saw man­age­rial mas­ter­mind Ron Saunders re­sign amid board­room bust-ups just

WITH this year’s Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal due to have been played on Satur­day in Is­tan­bul, we are cel­e­brat­ing six con­sec­u­tive days that mark at least one English vic­tory in club foot­ball’s great­est tour­na­ment.

On day two, we move to May 26 with two more clas­sic nights – a sur­prise win­ner and a shock end­ing, both in games dom­i­nated, but lost, by Bay­ern Mu­nich.

Tony Morley talks us through As­ton Villa’s tri­umph in 1982 when he set up the only goal for Peter Withe in Rot­ter­dam. three months be­fore Euro­pean Cup glory.

Morley still be­moans Villa’s fail­ure to build a last­ing dy­nasty as the side was later ripped apart by re­turn­ing chair­man Doug El­lis, who sought to put his own stamp on the club.

Yet ask him about that night at the De Kuip Sta­dium and his face lights up. Morley, 65, said: “Euro­pean Cup foot­ball suited me down to the ground. I found it eas­ier than the league.

“It was man-for-man mark­ing in Europe whereas in Eng­land they would cut your ser­vice off in­stead. But I be­lieved on my day, one against one, I would get the up­per hand. I knew in that fi­nal I could get an op­prtu­nity to cre­ate a chance.

“My job was to get the ball into the box and it was up to the strik­ers to get on the end of it. As it hap­pened it went across and went in off Peter’s shin. I didn’t play that well in the fi­nal but all I wanted was that medal.”

Morley’s cross for Withe was his fourth as­sist in the com­pe­ti­tion. He also scored four times as Villa knocked out FC Valur Reyk­javik, Dy­namo Ber­lin, Dy­namo Kiev and An­der­lecht en route to the fi­nal.

Tony Bar­ton, pro­moted from chief scout, took charge of Villa’s Euro­pean tri­umphs from the quar­ter-fi­nals on­wards but Saunders, who passed away last De­cem­ber, was the ar­chi­tect. As well as the First Divi­sion ti­tle, Villa won the League Cup twice un­der Saunders, while the kids also won the FA Youth Cup as he built solid foun­da­tions. Morley (below) said: “We were brought up un­der Ron to re­alise that it was a team game. And we had an in­cred­i­bly strong dress­ing room. Tony Bar­ton had been there for a long time and knew the set-up so he wasn’t go­ing to change any­thing.”

Yet whole­sale change swept through Villa after for­mer chair­man El­lis re­turned to take charge again in 1982 after the Euro­pean tri­umph. Stars like Kenny Swain, keeper Jimmy Rim­mer, Ken

Withe: I am con­vinced that if I’d hit it prop­erly the keeper would have saved it

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