Whenever the 1957 FA Cup final is mentioned, one name immediately comes to mind.
Peter McParland is the man most responsible for Villa’s famous Wembley victory over hot favourites Manchester United, scoring two second half goals to give his team a 2-1 verdict.
The Northern Ireland international is also remembered, of course, for his unfortunate collision with Ray Wood, which left United’s goalkeeper with a fractured jaw and the Manchester club down to 10 men for long periods.
But McParland’s contribution to the Villa cause extended far beyond his predatory instincts on that glorious May afternoon.
He scored a total of seven FA Cup goals that season, and his winners’ medal certainly wasn’t the only one the free-scoring winger collected during a decade in claret and blue.
He also helped Villa to the Second Division title in 1959/60 – and scored the extra-time winner which secured a 3-2 aggregate victory over Rotherham United in the inaugural League Cup final in 1961.
That goal gave him the distinction of being the first player to score in both an FA Cup and League Cup final.
McParland joined Villa from Irish club Dundalk in 1952 and even the man who signed him – manager George Martin – could not have envisaged the impact he would make at Villa Park.
Such was the impression he made that he won the first of his 34 international caps while still a teenager, scoring twice on his debut against Wales in 1954.
He also represented his country at the 1958 World Cup finals in Sweden.
Equally at home at centre-forward as he was on the left wing, McParland was a prolific scorer, hitting the target 121 times for Villa, including 25 league and cup goals during the 1959/60 campaign.
After nearly 10 years with the club, he moved across the West Midlands to join Wolves for £35,000 in January 1962.