By Graham Hill
SEEING Juan Pablo Angel and Martin Laursen back at Villa Park for the Blackburn game brings some great memories flooding back.
The impressive duo were part of a team that was a seemingly permanent fixture in the Premier League.
It is ironic that they are watching a game in the Championship – something that did not when they were at Villa.
Angel was a record signing for Villa at the time when he signed from River Plate for £9.5million.
It was by no means a smooth deal, and looked like it had been called off on more than one occasion.
I remember speaking to an Argentinian journalist late one Saturday night un January 2001 when I worked on the Sunday Mercury newspaper.
He phoned to say the deal was back on again at the South American end.
Villa officials said they had not been told this. This was pretty much before new leaked out online from all corners of the world.
We decided to run with the story and, in the days that followed, Angel flew to England to seal the deal.
Angel became a firm favourite for John Gregory’s side, scoring 62 goals in 205 appearances.
Few will forget his spectacular goal against Chelsea in the League Cup tie at Villa Park in December 2003.
The Colombian left on 2007 to join New York Red Bulls.
Denmark defender Laursen was signed from AC Milan by David OLeary in a £3million deal.
He struggled with injury problems to start with, but then made 91 appearances and scored 11 goals as well as becoming Villa captain, winning Supporters Player of the Year and scoring a a headed goal against Ajax in a 2-1 home win.
Laursen was there when the late Doug Ellis sold the club to Randy Lerner and also played under Martin O’Neill before leaving Villa 10 years ago.