February 1999; that was the last time that the top flight of English football saw an all English starting XI compete in a league game.
This may be a tad overdramatic, but isn’t that just the saddest thing you’ve ever heard in your entire life? Because to us, it’s right up there. But instead of mourning the legacy of English football, let’s look back at Aston Villa’s team that went up against Coventry City on that day.
Oh, and just to put a cherry on top of this oh so lovely sandwich – Coventry battered Villa 4-1 to really rubber stamp the message that foreign players are here to stay. Obviously it’s helped the game in the long run in terms of finances, but just once we’d love to see an all-English XI return to the Premier League if only for one game.
GK – Michael Oakes
Michael Oakes was a proper English goalkeeper, with stints for the likes of Scarborough, Gloucester City, Bromsgrove Rovers and obviously Aston Villa. The guy is currently coaching at Wrexham, so fair play to him for staying in the mix. Image Source: Twitter
RB – Riccardo Scimeca
Riccardo seemingly loved the Midlands with appearances for Forest, Villa, Leicester and West Brom to his name - not the worst of resumes. Image Source: Twitter
CB – Gareth Southgate
The current England manager and also one of Aston Villa's favourite sons. Image Source: Twitter
CB – Steve Watson
Good old Steve Watson held onto his professional football career for dear life, playing for another decade after this game, before retiring with Sheffield Wednesday. Image Source: Twitter
LB – Alan Wright
Alan Wright has faded into obscurity ever since his short stint as manager of Southport back in 2013, but his Villa career was nothing to laugh about after spending eight long years at the club. Image Source: Twitter
MID – Ian Taylor
Ian Taylor was a memorable figure at Villa Park. He was a Villains supporter from a young age, going on to reach both the League and FA Cup Final with his beloved side. Image Source: Twitter
MID – Paul Merson
Let's put Merse's chequered past to one side for now, because back in the day he was one hell of a midfielder. Image Source: Twitter
MID – Simon Grayson
In comparison to his impressive managerial career some people may forget that Simon Grayson was a formidable midfielder in the English game. Image Source: Twitter
MID – Lee Hendrie
It's hard to see how far Lee Hendrie has fallen since his playing days, because in his prime the guy was one of the most exciting players to come through the system at Aston Villa. He deserves a coaching position at the very least.
Image Source: Twitter
ST – Dion Dublin
Dion Dublin is perhaps one of the most underrated strikers of the last few decades, and he's a Midlands lad through and through. Image Source: Twitter
Julian Joachim is the ultimate journeyman of the beautiful game, playing for the likes of Coalville Town, Oadby Town, Shepshed Dynamo, Holwell Sports, Newark Town and many more. Image Source: Twitter
SEE ALSO: Chris Hughton: the master of the Championship
It’s fitting that a team with such a deep and illustrious history within the English game like Aston Villa were the side that closed the book on this era. Sure they’ve fallen down the ranks a bit, but given their potential the only way is up once more as we look forward to the future.