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My Star XI: Graham Taylor picks his combined Villa-Watford XI

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My Star XI: Graham Taylor picks his combined Villa-Watford XI

When it comes to picking a team made up of Villa and Watford players, nobody could do so with the same insight as Graham Taylor.

The former England boss managed both clubs on two separate occasions, working with and nurturing a host of outstanding players along the way.

It is no surprise, then, that Taylor's final XI took plenty of consideration.

There was a tinge of disappointment from the 71-year-old that he was unable to find starting spots for the likes of Dwight Yorke and Luther Blissett.

However, his time in the Villa Park and Vicarage Road hotseats totalled 19 years so some talented players were inevitably going to miss the cut.

GK - NIGEL SPINK (Aston Villa)

I think Nigel was underestimated as a goalkeeper.

He would control things from the back and used his voice a great deal to send out instructions.

Some keepers get their angles so right that they don't have to pull off great saves.

RB - PAT RICE (Watford)

This may surprise people.

I'd make him my captain, which he was at Watford.

Pat read the game so well and his experience at Watford helped us so much.

He would organise the defence and make sure they were ready for when we lost the ball.


CB - KENT NIELSEN (Aston Villa)

I brought Kent over from Denmark.

He was a first class player.

He was one of the early foreign players to come over so he had to contend with settling in and getting used to English football, but he was first class.

CB - PAUL MCGRATH (Aston Villa)

In my team talks when it came to talking about the opposition forwards, I would just look at Paul and say "look after him".

He didn't need me going into any detail.

He would just go and look after his opponent.

I can't recall any opponent giving him a bad time.


This is probably me boasting a little bit!

I signed Wilf from Sunderland for Watford as an outside left. But I saw something in him as a left back.

When I told him he looked astounded!

Despite not being the tallest he was very good in the air and because of his experience as an outside left he would overlap.

RM - TONY DALEY (Aston Villa & Watford)

Most people talked about Tony because of his pace but he improved so much technically during his time at Villa.

He began to understand the best times to take on full-backs or to play an early cross or pass.

He would frighten defenders.

CM - DAVID PLATT (Aston Villa)

No matter where you played Platty, he would score goals.

If David had an extra yard of pace, he'd have been a striker.

He had an ability to come from deep and arrive late into the box.

He had a great finishing technique too.


CM - GORDON COWANS (Aston Villa)

Gordon had great passing ability.

He could pick out someone 30 yards away and it would go straight to their feet. He knew the game.

Gordon liked playing in a position where he could pick up the ball and spread his passes about.

LM - JOHN BARNES (Watford)

What do you say about Barnsey?

A young boy who got recommended to us by a taxi driver.

We went to watch this boy and we knew we had to sign him.

He came to Watford and the rest is history.

He was a very talented player who worked hard as well.


Maurice was a great goalscorer.

I signed him from Patrick Thistle and he made a strong partnership with a guy called George Riley.

If the ball went to him in the box you thought "goal" straight away.


Ross was a bit like Peter Crouch in the sense that for such a big guy he had an exceptional touch but it wasn't always appreciated.

Because of his size it looked awkward if he made a mistake but he didn't make many.

Players like him help create space and opportunities for others.

SUB - DWIGHT YORKE (Aston Villa)

People might think I'm an idiot for not including him in my side!

He hadn't actually played many games for the first team when I left Villa.

But if you think of how little we paid for him and how much he was sold for, he deserves to be included.

So I'll have him as my substitute and bring him on in every game!

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 26th April 2016