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The Big Interview: Bouma - Saying goodbye completely choked me up

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The Big Interview: Bouma - Saying goodbye completely choked me up

Wilfred Bouma will never forget the moment has waved goodbye to the claret and blue faithful - because he got so choked up he couldn't speak.

Bouma walked on to the pitch to rapturous applause at half-time during Villa v Blackburn in May 2010.

He admits he was hoping to address the crowd and thank them for their support of him through the good times and the bad times.

But he decided against it at the last moment because he was genuinely worried he might break down in tears.

He said: "It was emotional saying farewell to the fans - that was hard, trust me.

"I couldn't say a thing. I wanted to talk on the microphone and address the tremendous supporters but I just couldn't do it, I found it impossible.

"I think I would have been choked up and it would have been hard not to drop a couple of tears.

"The fans will always hold a special place in my heart. They were one of the guiding lights in me getting fit again - the encouragement they gave me was incredible.

"It didn't matter how long I was out injured, they were always there for me, cheering for me, asking how I was. I am so grateful for that.

"I was so happy to become a fans favourite - that was genuinely so special. To be a hero gave me such a buzz - chanting my name and singing songs about me was tremendous and I am still so honoured.

"To know the fans appreciated the way I played - always giving my all for the team - means a lot."

Bouma

Bouma signed for Villa in August 2005 but admittedly struggled to establish himself, in main due to niggling injuries which really tarnished his first campaign in claret and blue.

However, the arrival of Martin O'Neill changed everything for the Dutch left-back.

Under O'Neill, Bouma begun to flourish during the 2006/07 season, as he made his name as first choice left back.

If that was a good campaign, it was the following term which Bouma remembers most fondly.

Bouma pinpoints it as his most enjoyable season in football.

The popular defender was an ever-present in the Premier League as O'Neill's men stormed to an impressive sixth place finish.

The former left-back says that season represents the time he produced his finest personal form.

He said: "It was a great time. If I look at it overall, I had some wonderful years at the club.

"At one stage I was playing my best football. I really enjoyed it.

"In the beginning, I had a tough time - in that first season - but after that I earnt my place in the team and it was just wonderful afterwards.

"Overall I can look back at a great time at Villa. There were some great memories from that 2007/08 season - look at the 2-0 home win over Chelsea, the 4-4 away at Chelsea, the 6-0 win at Derby.

"It started in pre-season really though. We played Inter Milan, won that game and went on a roll. It was really good.

"We had Gareth Barry, Ashley Young and Stiliyan Petrov. For me those three had something special. When they were on the pitch they gave you a little bit extra. The awareness of all three of them was really important.

"We didn't seem to get tired and from my own personal perspective I was stronger than ever. That was a really great feeling.

Bouma

"The memories of scoring in the 4-1 win over Newcastle and winning the derby over Blues 5-1 are moments I will never forget.

"Over the years, I have played a few fixtures against Blues and West Brom and never lost the derbies. That was great.

"The ones against Blues are obviously games you don't forget because that's real rivalry. That feeling of winning those is great.

"I enjoyed it the most when I was playing at my best in the top-flight. I have seen a lot but my time at Villa during that period was the time I enjoyed the most in football."

It's fair to say that Bouma was ready to push on even more the following season, with Villa aiming to really challenge in the very upper echelons of the Premier League.

But tragedy struck in the second leg of the Intertoto Cup against Odense in July 2008.

Bouma caught his studs on the turf as he attempted to challenge opposition forward Baye Djiby Fall.

He suffered a horrendously painful injury in the process - a dislocation of his right ankle.

He continued: "It was really tough. It was a horrendous injury and I got a lot of pain.

"I tried to come back the first time and the ankle was still not good so I knew there was still something wrong with it and I had more work to do.

"Even when I did my rehab back then, it was so painful and I thought even then something was not right.

"We did another operation and again I was worried it wasn't right but the doctor assured me it was fine.

"In the end, all the work paid off although it was time for a new challenge."

Bouma

After several full starts in his bid to return, Bouma resumed full training in January 2010.

However, while he played a full 90 minutes for the reserves in February 2010, he never made a return to the first team.

Three months later, the club confirmed that Bouma was to leave at the end of the 2009/10 campaign.

He continued: "In total I was injured for two years and I was lucky that Villa gave me the chance to get back to full fitness. I was unlucky it took me so long that I couldn't play for the Villa again.

"But thanks to the club I was still capable of playing.

"One of the things that meant I could come back was the support I had from the fans and the medical team.

"Because it took so long I was a little bit scared that I wouldn't even play football again.

"In the first year the only thing I could do after training was sit on the sofa at home - I wasn't even able to play with my kids or anything like that.

"Then you wonder in the back of your mind if you can continue with all this pain.

"Luckily I had a second operation and everything came back again. I was really lucky that I was able to come back. Some players aren't that lucky."

He waved goodbye in the final home game against Rovers - but the words never came.

Fans won't have been too disappointed, though because he showed how much he cared by his deeds every time he put on the claret and blue shirt.

But what does he miss the most about Villa now?

He added: "Definitely the supporters.

"I had a difficult first year because I had to adapt to the English style.

"But after that I became popular and that is something I will always remember - how much the fans appreciated me.

"Even though I was injured for a long time, they were always chanting my name when I was at the stadium watching the games while I was injured.

"One of those things in my career that I will always remember is that I played for the Villa.

"Villa and PSV are my two clubs. They will always be in my heart."

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 4th May 2016