Despite persistent knee troubles and a battle with alcoholism, Paul McGrath stands out as one of the finest defenders of his generation.
McGrath forged his reputation as a cool and determined character at Manchester United, ousting Gordon McQueen in the mid-1980s to regularly partner Kevin Moran at the heart of the club’s back-line.
But his chronic knee injuries and a strained relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson, determined to weed out the drinking culture at Old Trafford, led to the Republic of Ireland international joining Aston Villa for a £400,000 fee in August 1989.
Operating alongside Derek Mountfield and Kent Nielsen in a three-man defence, McGrath was part of the Villa side that finished runners-up to Liverpool in the 1989-90 season.
"Ugo – incredible. McGrath – incredible. Townsend – incredible."— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) February 27, 2020
Despite being plagued by knee trouble, McGrath’s star continued to rise at Villa Park while his hard work was recognised by his peers in 1992/93 as he won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year.
He was also named the club’s player of the year for the fourth successive season as Villa were runners-up to Manchester United in the inaugural Premier League – the third time in his career McGrath finished second in the top-flight.
McGrath would never get his hands on the league title but he cemented his place as a Villa great by helping them win the League Cup in 1993-94 and 1995-96.
After 323 appearances with Villa, McGrath left in the autumn of 1996 to join Derby before ending his playing career at the end of the 1997-98 season with Sheffield United, aged 38.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.