Award-winning author Child: Cowans would be bigger than Reacher
Villa-loving ace author Lee Child insists Gordon Cowans will never appear as a character in any of his Jack Reacher books.
Child, who has sold over 40m copies in 75 countries, counts Cowans as his favourite-ever claret and blue star, even penning a 'My Favourite Villan' feature for this very website about the star midfielder.
Child often uses Villa-related names in his novels - Graham Taylor is a suspected kidnapper, McGrath and Milosevic are FBI agents in Chicago, Teale is a bent mayor while Yorke is an abandoned mining town in Montana.
But he says his idol Cowans will never be included.
He told us: "I could never use Gordon. He's too important to me.
"The character would have to be better than Reacher and we can't have that!"
Movie Jack Reacher - based on his book 'One Shot' - has been a smash-hit in cinemas, with Tom Cruise playing the title-role.
Child's latest thriller - A Wanted Man - again follows tradition with claret and blue characters within.
Thomas Sorensen and Nathan Delfouneso join the long list.
Sorensen appears as FBI agent Julia Sorensen, who is investigating a murder in Nebraska while Delfouneso is Karen Delfuneso [spelt incorrectly], a hostage taken by the murderers.
Child continued: "They were random selections although I wanted a Scandinavian name because there are many ethnic Scandinavians in that part of the States.
"And I spelled Delfouneso wrong, didn't I!"
Child, real name Jim Grant, was born in Coventry, brought up in Handsworth Wood - and is a staunch Villan.
As an adopted New Yorker, Child mostly has to settle for catching Villa on TV these days, getting his live sporting fix from baseball at Yankee Stadium.
But his devotion to the claret and blue cause is as strong as ever.
Hence the frequent Villa references in his books.
He continued: "The hardest thing I find is coming up with names for characters, so in a sense it helps me out of that difficulty.
"It started with Mayor Teale in my first book Killing Floor and went on from there."
The second book - Die Trying - featured Paul McGrath, Yorke and Milosevic, although many of Child's readers wrongly presume the latter is based on the Serbian war criminal Slobodan rather than the Villa striker Savo!
Since then we've had Withe, Shaw, Scimeca, Angel, Vassell, Carbone, Docherty, John Gregory, Graham Taylor and Mark Burke, who may have played only eight times for Villa but who impressed the author as an industrious midfielder.
Not surprisingly, Child's fondest memories were when Villa won the League Championship and European Cup.
He added: "That was an outstanding team. Gordon was my favourite player. Apart from his skill he always seemed to be a modest, unassuming guy.
"I would love to meet him, just to tell him how much pleasure he gave me over the years."
Thankfully, Child is set to get his wish later this season, with Cowans thrilled to agree to the request.
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