Paul McGrath opens up about his ‘love’ for Aston Villa
Paul McGrath reiterated his love for Aston Villa while sharing poignant memories of his former managers, Graham Taylor and Ron Atkinson.
McGrath will forever be etched in Vila folklore for his action-packed, engaged and elegant displays that helped him earn the nickname “God” among the masses of Villa Park.
The Irishman wanted to have a lasting impact at Villa when he signed in 1989, as he was given a new life away from Manchester United. He told Virgin Media Sport: “I think they (the fans) thought I just wanted another payday and wanted to get out of the club as much as possible and leave at sunset, but I loved the club. “said McGrath. .
“Villa is a place where a lot of players like to play, they had a lot of semi-finals there and stuff like that, so a lot of footballers if you ask them, they loved playing at Villa Park.
“For me playing there week after week, I went with Villa and Graham Taylor was so good to me, he was so, so good to me and Doug Ellis too.
“They said they were going to double my salary, and I said to them, ‘you are going to double my salary and give me more, that’s great.’ I realized they wanted me so badly for me to play for. the club they were willing to do these things for me so I thought I would do my best. “
In the late 1980s, McGrath was offered a contract with the Italian side of SSC Napoli, but the deal fell through. Instead, the center-back started his story at B6 by signing under former boss Villa Taylor in August 1989, for whom he played one of the best footballers of his career.
“I was struggling with the fact that I was at a new club and they all expected me to do things their way and get out on the football field and do certain things,” McGrath said. .
“I went to the physiotherapist, Jim Walker, and told him that I usually don’t train the same as other players.
“I loved going to the gym and keeping in shape, riding my bike because my knees are now a bit in chunks. They cut my workouts down and made sure I was in good shape every Saturday .
“Graham Taylor even came to see me and he told me he spoke to his wife and asked me if I wanted to stay in their house. Something pretty serious happened to me while I was at the house. lower then Graham came to me and I just said, ‘Paul, if you want to come with me and Rita, you are welcome to do that and we will correct you and make you well again.’
READ MORE: John Terry posts update on his managerial future after Aston Villa exit
READ MORE: Aston Villa could turn to transfer market after revealing Christian Purslow comments
“I just thought this man was a saint. I didn’t go, but I started thanking him in the performances I gave after that and I hope he feels the same.
“Jim Walker and McBurn, they both had a joint venture together and what they did was make arrangements even for Ireland, who will drop me off for what plane and Jim would come in the plane with me. Everything was brilliantly laid out and I could focus on just waking up on the football field and doing my best for everyone who was doing the best for me. “
After Taylor’s first term in the Villa Park hot seat, Jozef Venglos only lasted one season before Ron Atkinson took over in July 1991, in time for the start of the 1991/1992 campaign – the last season. first division.
When asked if the Atkinson era was his favorite moment at Villa, McGrath replied, “I think so.
“We had Dean Saunders, Dalian Atkinson then, there were so many players who wanted to play for Aston Villa. You had Tony Daley, Dwight Yorke, we were always going to score goals but it was about how many and sometimes they did. you just have to tear up the teams, five goals here, six goals there.
“If we let one in, then the other team did well. We just focused on not giving up goals and defending and all of a sudden we went soaring in the league.”
At the end of Villa’s second season under Atkinson – the first Premier League campaign in 1992/93 – McGrath was awarded the PFA Player of the Year for his outstanding performances.
Only six defenders have won the prestigious award in the past 40 years, with Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk being the latest winner.
“Bobby Charlton introduced him to me,” recalls McGrath.
“He used to stop me and tell me to pull myself together because I was a good player and he gave me good advice, forget what people say off the pitch, just focus on what you do on it. “
READ MORE: Chelsea dealt a heavy blow ahead of Aston Villa clash
READ MORE: Chelsea fans react to ‘stupid’ setback ahead of Aston Villa clash