It’s difficult to equate the refined gentleman who later managed the club with the cavalier of a footballer who was such an integral figure in Villa’s line-up for most of the seventies.
Sporting shoulder-length hair, Brian Little was a striker who endeared himself to the crowd with his flair and ability to do something out of the ordinary.
He was quick, imaginative and intelligent, qualities which made him a delight to watch.
His innovative approach brought him plenty of goals too, none more important or more dramatic than his winner in the dying seconds of extra-time against Everton in the second replay of a marathon 1977 League Cup final.
Little was on target twice at Old Trafford that night in what was the crowning glory of a season in which he scored 26 league and cup goals and was an ever-present.
His goal haul that season, which included a hat-trick in the League Cup semi-final second replay against QPR, was two more than he had managed a couple of seasons earlier, when he had helped Villa to promotion back to the top flight and League Cup glory.
Little, who was born less than a mile from Newcastle United’s St James’ Park ground, joined Villa as an apprentice in 1969, signing professional two years later and helping the club to an FA Youth Cup triumph in 1972.
By then, he had made his first team debut and the following season he featured more frequently in the senior side, making 20 appearances.
After establishing himself as a key member of the team over the next two seasons, he missed more than half the 1975/76 campaign through injury – but started more than 100 games over the course of the subsequent two seasons.
Frustratingly, for such a gifted player, he received only one England cap, going on as a late substitute for Mick Channon against Wales at Wembley in 1975.
At the end of his playing career, he became Villa’s youth team coach and later moved into management, guiding Villa to victory over Leeds United in the 1996 League Cup final.
Little returned to the club as an advisor to the Board of Directors in March 2016.