Centurion Clark: Debut discussion with O'Neill was a shock
Ciaran Clark remembers his debut most vividly as he recalls 100 games in claret and blue, saying: "Martin O'Neill called me into his office and told me - You're playing!"
Clark made his top-flight bow in August 2009 in the 2-0 win over Fulham and excelled in central defence alongside the more experienced Carlos Cuellar.
Clark, reserve skipper at the time, made his long-awaited first start after O'Neill decided not to risk the injured Curtis Davies.
And it proved to be a wise decision as the former England U19 captain produced a calm and composed display at the back, leading Villa to their first clean sheet of the season.
O'Neill hailed Clark after the match, insisting: "He took it all in his stride. He is just a great character. If there's anyone you'd want to see make the grade, it's him. He is very good and a cool young customer."
Clark recalls the game with great fondness.
He said: "I never would have thought I'd have got there. It's flown by.
"I remember my first game like it was yesterday. To make 100 games, it's a massive honour. Hopefully there will be many more.
"I remember going into the dressing room before the Fulham game knowing there were a few injuries. But I never thought I'd get the nod to play.
"Martin called me into the office just before announcing the team to the group and said 'You're playing.'
"I was a bit shocked. He asked if I was okay. I said yes. I went out and just got on with it.
"It was a good day for me and a good day for the team. We won 2-0 and Gabby Agbonlahor scored too. We kept a clean sheet which was great."
Clark's 100th game came in the 2-2 draw with Liverpool - a match he hopes Villa can now use as a springboard to future success.
He added: "We were delighted with the draw at Anfield. But the three points would have been justified I feel.
"The way we went about the game on Merseyside and the way we played, I thought we were unlucky not to get the three points.
"We will take positives from the game, though, and move forward with confidence."
Clark was talking to AVTV in an exclusive interview.
Watch the in-depth chat now.
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