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My Favourite Villan: Cricket ace Chris Woakes on Martin Laursen

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My Favourite Villan: Cricket ace Chris Woakes on Martin Laursen

We have asked members of the claret and blue family - celebrities, fans, journalists, staff - to give us their all-time hero. Here Warwickshire cricketer Chris Woakes outlines the qualities of a true leader.

The main reason I admired Martin Laursen so much was that he was very much a leader on the field.

He gave 110 per cent week in, week out - and made sure his team-mates did likewise.

Maybe he wasn't one of those players blessed with natural ability; indeed, he could quite ugly when he needed to be. But you just knew that whenever he put that shirt on he always wanted to win.

From a fans' point of view, that's all you ask for.

As a captain, he had to lead the troops and he did it superbly, but even before he was handed the armband at the start of the 2008-09 season you looked at him and actually thought he was the skipper.

People sometimes say captains aren't absolutely necessary in football but he always got the best out of his players.

And it was fantastic the way he managed the back four.

He put so much into his performances for Villa and he is still a massive Villa fan at heart.

He wasn't just one of those players who come here and then move on; he put a lot of time and effort into the club and he is still in contact with people at Villa Park.

Martin Laursen

Another thing I recall was his ability to contribute vital goals.

He scored half-a-dozen in one season, and that very rarely happens to a centre-back.

He was so good in the air and was always a threat in the penalty area, which was an added extra which was so vital to the team.

Playing alongside Olof Mellberg probably helped him a lot, as well. Mellberg was a class act and the two of them together made a pretty special combination.

As a pair, they understood each other's games and that helped them both.

They were always dominant at the back and I was a big fan of both of them, but Laursen had a bit more flair than Mellberg so I enjoyed watching him that little bit more.

Laursen was outstanding. I wouldn't say a captain is quite as important in football as in cricket. But it's still vital to have a leader on the field when times get hard and players need a quick talking-to.

When things get tough you need someone to rally the troops and get things into shape.

I love coming to Villa Park. I've always been a Villa fan and I always will be.

I was originally from Great Barr and my dad was a supporter who used to stand on the terraces back in the day.

Almost as soon as I was born he was force-feeding me claret and blue!

Dad's favourites were Gordon Cowans and Tony Morley. He loved that era and the way the game was played then.

Football has obviously changed over the years but I reckon I had as much pleasure from watching our Great Dane as Dad did from watching his own heroes.

It would have been great to see Martin lead us to a trophy but unfortunately his injury put an end to that notion.

Now I'm hoping Ron Vlaar, another excellent captain, will do it for us in the not-too-distant future.

By @AVFCOfficial 15th January 2014
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