Manchester United and Aston Villa meet in the Premier League this weekend, a clash between two of English football’s most historic clubs.
Each have been almost ever-presents in England’s top tier and both sides have been crowned European champions during storied histories, whilst there is a group of talented footballers who have adorned the colours of both clubs.
We’ve decided to look at some of the finest of the modern era, here are five of the best players to have played for both Manchester United and Aston Villa.
Paul McGrath remains one of the greatest footballers Ireland have ever produced, a combative but cultured centre-back who overcame unfathomable obstacles to cement himself as one of the game’s best.
McGrath was ravaged with injuries and had well-documented demons with alcohol, but was still able to be the best player on the pitch on some huge occasions for both club and country.
He signed for Manchester United from St Patrick’s Athletic in 1982 and soon became a key figure in the side, winning the FA Cup in 1985 after a man-of-the-match performance in the final win over Everton.
However, injuries decimated his latter seasons with the club and after 203 appearances he was allowed to leave for Aston Villa in a decision the Red Devils came to regret.
Despite reoccurring knee issues that saw him contemplate retirement upon leaving Old Trafford, he played for almost a decade after his departure and wrote his name into Aston Villa folklore.
Nicknamed ‘God’ on the Holte End, he made 323 appearances for Villa and won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award during the Premier League’s inaugural season in 1992/93 – a feat since matched by only John Terry and Virgil van Dijk among defenders.
Long before his time assessing properties on Homes under the Hammer, Dion Dublin was a more than handy footballer.
Sir Alex Ferguson spotted potential in the powerful forward and signed Dublin from Cambridge United during the infancy of the Premier League’s inaugural season, having missed out on the signing of Alan Shearer to Blackburn.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) December 13, 2021
Dublin scored his first goal with a late winner at Southampton, but he suffered a broken leg just a month into his career with the club and found an Eric Cantona-shaped obstacle in his path to first-team football on his return.
He made just 15 appearances before leaving for Coventry City in 1994, where he enjoyed the best spell of his career in the Midlands with the Sky Blues and later Aston Villa.
Dublin – joint-winner of the Premier League’s Golden Boot in 1997/98 whilst at Coventry – began brilliantly at Villa, scoring seven goals in his first four appearances for the club. He spent six seasons with Villa and scored 57 goals in 187 appearances.
Huge presence, huge personality and a pivotal part of Manchester United’s golden era, the signing of Peter Schmeichel proved one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s greatest captures.
Schmeichel arrived as an unknown from Brondby and departed as the Premier League’s greatest goalkeeper, having won five league titles, three FA Cups and the Champions League among his major honours at Old Trafford.
The Denmark international was instrumental in the club’s treble-winning season in 1998/99, with his FA Cup semi-final penalty save from Dennis Bergkamp ensuring the Red Devils remained on course for three major trophies.
He remains the only goalkeeper to have been named as the Premier League’s Player of the Season and captained the side on that famous night at the Camp Nou as United came from behind to beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
That game proved his final for the club as he joined Sporting Lisbon that summer, before ending his career with short spells at Aston Villa and Manchester City.
He became the first goalkeeper to score a Premier League goal during a single season with Villa, scoring in a 3-2 defeat at Everton.
Aston Villa spotted a teenage Dwight Yorke during a tour game in the West Indies in the late eighties, providing the talented forward with a trial in which he suitably impressed.
Yorke developed into a key figure for Villa during the first seasons of the Premier League era, with his fortunes transformed after being converted from a right winger into a centre-forward.
He scored 25 goals in all competitions as Villa won the League Cup in 1995/96 and netted in the 3-0 final win over Leeds at Wembley.
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 22, 2018
He scored 98 goals in 287 appearances for the club before signing for Manchester United in 1998, as the Red Devils looked to bolster their attacking options.
Yorke’s arrival proved the catalyst for the club’s greatest ever season, as he finished as the Premier League’s joint-leading scorer during United’s historic treble-winning season in 1998/99.
The forward formed an iconic understanding with Andy Cole and was named as the Premier League’s Player of the Season, whilst he scored 65 goals in 152 games across four seasons with the club.
Aston Villa broke their transfer record to sign Ashley Young from Watford in 2007, spending an initial £8m to bring the promising winger to Villa Park.
Young formed part of an exciting collection of talent under Martin O’Neill as Villa pushed for a place in the Premier League’s top four, providing 14 assists during an impressive debut season with the club.
He was named as the PFA Young Player of the Year in 2008/09 after another productive campaign and made 190 appearances in all competitions before a £17m move to Manchester United.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 29, 2021
His first season included a starring role in the club’s 8-2 thrashing of Arsenal as Young scored twice, whilst he won the Premier League title during his second season in 2012/13.
Young’s latter seasons with the Red Devils saw him converted into a more defensive role, where he remained a regular and made 216 appearances – winning four major trophies.
After a short spell with Inter Milan he returned to Aston Villa in 2021 and the 37-year-old now provides an experienced and versatile option in Unai Emery’s squad.