My Favourite Villan: Supporters chief Alan Perrins on Dean Saunders
Dean Saunders was the player I hated with a vengeance.
The first time I saw him in action was when he came here with Derby County in November 1988 - and he terrorised Villa.
He ran the show that day and scored one of the goals in a 2-1 Rams win, so I disliked him immensely for quite some time afterwards!
Even so, I was ecstatic when Ron Atkinson signed him from Liverpool nearly four years later.
Deano, quite simply, was the sort of player you wanted in your team, rather than playing against you.
During the course of any game he would cover every blade of grass, he would chase every lost cause, he was always in the right position - and he scored for fun.
In the three seasons he was with us, he headed the goal chart each time and I just wish he had stayed longer.
Unfortunately, he was keen to play abroad so he went to Turkey and joined Galatasaray but I often wonder if he looks back and thinks he would have been better off staying here for another season.
Maybe he would have stayed if Big Ron had still been manager because there's no doubt they had enormous respect for each other.
I'll never forget when Ron went on the pitch with a microphone and informed us he was trying hard to sign Saunders. You don't see managers doing that today.
That was in early September and to this day I'm convinced that if we had signed Deano at the start of the season rather than after eight games, we would have been the first Premier League champions.
As it was, he couldn't have had a more explosive start, scoring twice on his home debut against Liverpool in a game I'll never forget.
I had a long-distance view of his first goal because my seat was - and still is - in the Trinity Road stand on the Holte End side of the half-way line.
But he was almost in line with me when he tried a shot from more than 40 yards against Ipswich Town.
One second I was thinking "that's a bit ambitious" the next I was yelling "what a goal!"
Then there were his two priceless goals at Wembley when we beat Manchester United to win the League Cup in 1994.
But my favourite Saunders goal was a header against United in a League Cup-tie at Villa Park not long after he joined us.
United had gone 15 or 16 games without losing and the atmosphere was amazing that night.
I loved him - and not just for his football ability, even though he was always a delight to watch.
He was a cheeky, bubbly character who was clearly a great guy to have around the dressing room.
He always gave the impression, too, of never getting ideas above his station.
He was here at a time when players were really starting to make serious money, but Deano always arrived at the ground in his sponsored Rover 400 on a matchday - even though he probably had a Lamborghini on his drive at home!
That was typical of his professional approach and I was devastated when he left, absolutely gutted.
It would have been great to see him reach a half century of Villa goals.
Snap up match tickets for our clash with Fulham.
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