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Six of the Best: Here are our ultimate top-flight full-backs
Our summer feature series continues.
31st May 2014
Six of the Best: Here are our ultimate top-flight full-backs


Here are our fab full-backs from the Premier League era as we continue our summer feature series.

WILFRED BOUMA

Who knows what Wilfred Bouma would have achieved but for the serious knee injury which brought his Villa career to a premature end?

As it was, the Holland international delighted supporters with his classy left-back displays after being signed by David O'Leary from PSV Eindhoven in August 2005.

Even though a succession of niggling problems marred his debut campaign at the club, Bouma established himself as a regular after O'Leary had been replaced by Martin O'Neill the following season.

Indeed, his strength of tackle and uncompromising approach elevated him to the status of a cult hero with the claret and blue army and earned him a recall to the Holland team.

He only scored one goal for Villa and it was a deflected shot at that, but it was important nonetheless - an early second-half equaliser against Newcastle United which laid the platform for a John Carew hat-trick.

Sadly, the knee injury he sustained against Odense in a 2008 Intertoto Cup proved to be the beginning of the end of his Villa career, although he subsequently played 76 Eredivise games for PSV.

Barrett

EARL BARRETT

He wore claret and blue for less than three years, yet Earl Barrett's quality is underlined by the fact that that his two full seasonswere among Villa's most successful of the Premier League era.

Signed from Oldham Athletic in February 1992, he spent the remainder of that final First Division campaign establishing himself as a classy and athletic right-back.

Then he stepped up a gear to prove conclusively that his £1.7m transfer fee was money well spent by manager Ron Atkinson.

Barrett played in every match as Villa finished runners-up to Liverpool in the inaugural Premier campaign of 1992-93 and the flowing year he was in the team that beat Manchester United 3-1 at Wembley to win the League.

A cultured, stylish defender, he was undoubtedly one of Big Ron's most astute acquisitions, regularly keeping opposition wingers under wraps as wellas using the ball effectively and intelligently.

He also enjoyed getting forward, although he managed to score only twice during 150 Villa appearances before joining Everton in January 1995.

Delaney

MARK DELANEY

Mark Delaney made nearly 200 appearances for Villa but the figure would surely have been nearer 300 had he not been forced to retire at the age of 31 because of a serious knee injury.

The announcement was made in August 2007 following an 18-month battle to overcome the injury he had sustained in an FA Cup-tie against Manchester City.

A former packer in a wool factory, Delaney joined Villa from Cardiff City in March 1999 and broke into the side as the regular right-back as Villa reached the FA Cup final the following season.

We had the first indication of his knee problems early in the 2000-01 season but when fit he was solid and dependable, both in his own position and, when the need arose, as a central defender.

His steady, understated performances also earned him international recognition and he won 36 caps for Wales.

Staunton

STEVE STAUNTON

Steve Staunton clearly couldn't make up his mind between Villa and Liverpool.

Over the course of 15 years, he had two spells with both clubs, making a combined total of 498 appearances.

The majority of those were in claret and blue, the Republic of Ireland playing a total of 350 games for Villa, many of them in the Premier League.

Staunton was a key figure for the Anfield club from 1988 until the summer of 1991, when he became one of Ron Atkinson's first signings in a £1.1m transfer.

And even though he headed back to Merseyside in June 1998, John Gregory brought him back on a free transfer two years later.

A consummate professional, Staunton's best position was arguably left-back, although he also performed admirably in central defence or midfield.

He was also a Wembley winner for both clubs, helping the Reds to FA Cup glory in 1989 and Villa to a League Cup triumph five years later.

Unfortunately he was beset by injuries throughout the 1995-96 campaign and had to settle for a substitute's role when Villa triumphed for the second time in three seasons.

He also represented Ireland at three World Cup finals, as well as managing the Republic later in his career.

Young

LUKE YOUNG

Luke Young was almost a victim of his own versatility during his time in claret and blue.

When he arrived from Middlesbrough in the summer of 2008 it was a signing designed to give Villa a recognised right-back for the first time since Mark Delaney's enforced retirement 12 months earlier.

As it turned out, he spent a sizeable chunk of his debut campaign at left-back as manager Martin O'Neill attempted to find a balanced back four.

If Young's time at Villa wasn't the most successful of his career, though, he still produced some classy performances among his 89 appearances, and also weighed in with a couple of goals.

One was a scrambled effort in a 3-2 win against Blackburn Rovers a few months after he arrived, the other a superb winner against Everton in August 2010.

Wright

ALAN WRIGHT

If you're good enough, you're big enough.

If you don't believe that, just take a look at Alan Wright's career.

Although he stands only 5ft 4in, Wright enjoyed an outstanding career, clocking up 329 games for Villa.

He twice stepped out at Wembley in claret and blue, too, first in the team that won the 1996 League Cup final and then in the one beaten by Chelsea in the 2000 FA Cup final.

Signed from Blackburn Rovers for £900,000 in 1995, Wright regularly produced steady performances which were sound defensively and laced with a sprinkling of creative flair.

He loved to get forward down the left, and frequently provided pinpoint crosses for Villa's strikers.

His lack of height was never a great problem, either, even in aerial duels against much taller opponents.

Wright also hit five goals for Villa, all of them unstoppable shots, either from the edge of the penalty area or slightly further out.

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