It is only about 12 miles from Molineux to Villa Park but it is not as well-trodden path between the West Midlands’ two most successful clubs as you may imagine. Villa and Wolves have their most intense rivalries with Birmingham City and West Brom respectively. But, this is also a game with a lot to play for. In this article, we will have a look at some of the players who have played for both Aston Villa and Wolves.
Here are the 15 best players to have played for both Aston Villa and Wolves.
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15. Robbie Keane
Wolves – 87
Aston Villa – 7
The Irish wonderkid was an instant hit at Wolves, bagging a brace on his debut against Norwich City. The youngster scored 24 times in gold and black in 73 second tier games before he was sold to then top flight Coventry City.
Spells at Inter Milan, Leeds, Spurs, Liverpool, Celtic, West Ham and LA Galaxy followed before he was brought to Villa on loan by Alex McLeish in 2012.
He scored three goals in six games, two of which (including the winner) came at Molineux in a 3-2 Villa victory.
Keane, though, had the good grace to not celebrate in front of his old fans. He is undoubtedly, one of the best players to have played for both Aston Villa and Wolves.
14. Kortney Hause
Wolves – 80
Aston Villa – 15*
Hause joined Wolves from Wycombe Wanderers in a two and a half year deal in 2014. He was soon loaned out to League One club Gillingham until January 2015. However, his loan was cut short in November 2014 when he was recalled by Wolves after having made 17 appearances in total for the Gills.
After the departure of Richard Stearman to Fulham, Hause became a main part in the Wolves defence. He was part of the Wolves team until 2019, when he was loaned out to Aston Villa with the option of permanent transfer.
After gaining promotion to the Premier League, Aston Villa used the option to permanently sign the English defender for £3m.
13. John Burridge
Aston Villa – 65
Wolves – 74
John Burridge joined Aston Villa from Blackpool in 1975. He spent three seasons with the club and won the League Cip in 1977. But, he eventually lost his place to Jimmy Rimmer and was sold to Crystal Palace.
In July 1982, Burridge joined his seventh club, Wolverhampton Wanderers. In the 1982-83 season in a game at Molineux, Wolves entertained Newcastle United. Prior to the game Burridge had made a bet with a stake of £100, with Kevin Keegan that Burridge would play the game in a Superman outfit.
As a result of the bet, Wolves biggest crowd of the season, a crowd of 22500, witnessed Burridge playing the match in a Superman outfit. Burridge helped Wolves gain promotion to the top flight as runners-up, only to be relegated the following season. He left Wolves in October 1984 to join Sheffield United, signed by Ian Porterfield.
12. Charlie Phillips
Wolves – 202
Aston Villa -22
Charlie Phillips began his football career with Ebbw Vale before turning professional with Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1929. He went on to play 202 games in all competitions, scoring 65 goals. He contributed to the club’s Second Division title in the 1931–32 season.
Phillips also scored in the 4–2 victory over Everton in the last match of the following season, a game Wolves had to win to remain in the First Division. In January 1936, Phillips moved on to Aston Villa for a fee of £9,000, where he experienced relegation followed by another Second Division title. He is widely regarded as one of the best players to have played for both Aston Villa and Wolves.
11. Steve Froggatt
Aston Villa – 35
Wolves – 126
Froggatt began his career Aston Villa as a trainee, before turning professional and making his debut for the team in 1991. He truly established himself during the first Premier League season of 1992-93, helping the club to end as runners-up.
He won the League Cup with Villa in 1994. After spending three seasons with Villa, he was sold to Wolves. During the winger’s four seasons at Molineux, he made 126 appearances in all competitions, scoring nine times in gold and black, as Wolves narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League twice – both times in the First Division play-offs
In Froggatt’s first season at Wolves in 1994/95, he was a regular in the midfield, up until an injury in December saw him miss the remainder of the campaign, which ended in the infamous play-off final defeat to Bolton Wanderers.
Injury once again put Froggatt out of the play-off semi-final against Crystal Palace two years later, after an intermittent spell in Mark McGhee’s line-up throughout the season, returning the next campaign to play his role in helping Wolves to the FA Cup semi-finals.
10. Les Smith
Wolves – 88
Aston Villa – 130
Smith began his professional career with Wolves, making his senior debut in April 1947. He was part of the squad that won the league title in 1953–54, although managing only four appearances during the campaign.
It was his misfortune, though, to have previously been with Wolverhampton Wanderers at a time when the Molineux club were blessed with two of the finest wingers in the country.
Despite spending a decade with Wolves, he was restricted to less than 90 games because of the presence of Johnny Hancocks and Jimmy Mullen, and it was only after moving to Villa Park that he finally established himself as a regular first team footballer.
Arriving around the same time as Jimmy Dugdale, Smith made his debut on the same day as the former Albion defender and that season the duo helped Villa to avoid relegation.
Smith played for Aston Villa in the 1957 FA Cup Final against Manchester United’s Busby Babes, where Villa won the game 2-1 to lift the cup. However his career was cut short after an achilles injury forced him into retirement in 1960. In total, he made 130 appearances, scoring 27 goals for Villa.
9. Michael Oakes
Aston Villa – 52
Wolves – 220
Oakes began his career in Aston Villa’s youth system, before turning professional in 1991. He spend 8 seasons with Aston Villa, but only made 52 league apps. During this period, he was mostly loaned out to various clubs.
Oakes made the short journey to Wolverhampton Wanderers in October 1999 for £500,000, and soon ousted long-serving Mike Stowell as number one at Molineux. He remained as the first-team goalkeeper until September 2002, when he suffered a shoulder injury and was replaced by rookie Matt Murray.
Oakes was honoured with a medal during the 2003 Football League First Division playoff final/play-off success against Sheffield United at the Millennium Stadium in May 2003.
He was given a free transfer in May 2007 after 220 appearances in total. Upon his release, Oakes drew praise from his former colleague Murray, stating that “I learned a lot from him and he has always been very supportive of me. Whoever signs him is going to have a top keeper.”
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8. Joleon Lescott
Wolves – 235
Aston Villa – 31
Lescott is a graduate of the Wolverhampton Wanderers youth academy. He made his first-team debut with Wolves in 2000 and he was named the supporters’ Young Player of the Year two years running. He was a regular player as the club won promotion to Premier League in 2003.
In 2006, he left the club to join Everton, where he was twice voted the Everton Players’ Player of the Season. He then joined Manchester City in 2009, where he won the Premier League twice. Then after spending a season at West Brom, he joined Aston Villa in 2015.
When signing for Villa, Lescott revealed to the Birmingham Mail he has been an Aston Villa fan from a young age. His stay at the club was short lived, as he left the club at the end of the season while Villa were relegated to the championship.
7. Dicky Dorsett
Wolves – 46
Aston Villa – 257
Dorsett started his career with Wolves, making his debut in 1938. During that season he scored their only goal in the 4-1 defeat by Portsmouth in the 1939 FA Cup Final.
During World War II, Dorsett served with the RAF and guested for Brentford, Grimsby Town, Liverpool, Queens Park Rangers and Southampton, for whom he made 16 appearances, scoring 23 goals. He was a member of the Wolves side that won the 1942 Football League War Cup and played 58 wartime games, scoring 40 goals.
In September 1946, he joined Aston Villa for £3,000. His career almost came to an end in 1950 when he was involved in a car crash, but he recovered and played another three seasons before retiring from the game in 1953. He could easily be ranked among one of the best players to have played for both Aston Villa and Wolves.
6. Tony Daley
Aston Villa – 233
Wolves – 21
The Aston Villa wideman was phenomenally fast; the sort of pace he had was the sort which even the most casual observer could notice as soon as he became involved, on or off the ball. Daley had a deft touch and a decent crossing ability too.
Daley joined hometown club Aston Villa as an apprentice, turning professional in April 1985. He played for the Midlands club for ten seasons, nine at the highest level, and finished a runner-up in both the 1989–90 and 1992–93 league championships. He also played in their 1994 League Cup final triumph where they defeated Manchester United at Wembley.
Daley left Aston Villa for Wolverhampton Wanderers in July 1994 for £1.25 million, but he was plagued with injuries and was only able to manage 21 appearances for the club in four seasons.
5. Peter McParland
Aston Villa – 320
Wolves – 21
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.
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.
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. Although he was only there for one season, he did manage to score 10 goals in 21 games.
4. Paul Birch
Aston Villa – 173
Wolves – 142
Often operating on the right flank, but equally effective when buzzing hyperactively at the heart of midfield, Birch made his senior entrance in claret and blue in unexpected circumstances. He was called on as a substitute for striker Gary Shaw 12 minutes from the end of Villa’s European Super Cup clash at home to Barcelona in January 1983. The 20-year-old helped to close out a 3-0 victory – 3-1 on aggregate – and made his domestic top-flight debut during the following season, laying claim to a fairly regular berth in 1984-85.
Birch became renowned for his ceaseless industry and passionate commitment, but he was also deceptively deft with the ball at his feet and specialised in sudden high-velocity shots from long range.
He was never a prolific goalscorer, his highest total for Villa being six in 38 matches, when he helped them back to the First Division (1987-88), from which they had been relegated the previous season. Altogether, he would play 173 league games for Villa, with a total of just 16 goals, before being transferred in 1991 to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
At Wolves, Birch found himself in a more congenial milieu. His new manager was Graham Turner, his onetime boss at Villa Park. He scored the only goal of the game against West Ham on his debut. Wolves were in the Second Division, and Birch was unable to help them out of it, even though, in his second season at Molineux, he missed only one league game and achieved his highest score, eight in all. He would spend five years with Wolves, then moved on for short spells with Doncaster Rovers and Exeter City, before retiring in 1999.
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3. Andy Gray
Aston Villa – 167
Wolves – 162
The Scottish striker bagged 54 goals in 113 games in his first spell at Villa and achieved legendary status which saw him win the PFA player of the year and young player of the year in the same season.
His British record transfer to Molineux almost caused a riot at Villa, and tarnished his status among the claret and blue faithful.
Gray went on to play 162 times for Wolves, bagging 45 goals – including the winner in the 1980 League Cup final.
He did return to Aston Villa via Everton in 1985. Despite starting the decade on a high as league champions in 1981 and European Cup winners in 1982, Villa had now declined to mid table mediocrity and the return of Gray was unable to turn things around as his arrival at Everton had done.
He scored five goals from 35 league games in 1985–86 as Villa narrowly avoided relegation to the Second Division, and the following season he failed to score a single goal from 19 league games as Villa fell into the Second Division. He began the 1987–88 season still with Villa, but was transferred to their local rivals West Bromwich Albion in September 1987 having not featured in a first team game for Villa that season.
2. Derek Dougan
Aston Villa – 60
Wolves – 323
Signed by great Villa boss Joe Mercer in 1961, Dougan was brought in from Blackburn Rovers for £15,000 to replace legendary Villan Gerry Hitchens, who had been sold to Inter Milan.
One of the best players to have played for both Aston Villa and Wolves, Dougan, went on to score 26 goals in 60 games but his time was marred by a car accident which left the striker injured but caused the death of a friend.
The legend of ‘The Doog’ was truly born at Wolves, who he joined in 1967.
Then in Division Two, Dougan marked his home debut with a hat-trick against Hull City and helped the club to secure promotion to the First Division that season.
The Doog went on to score 123 goals in 323 appearances.
1. Peter Broadbent
Wolves – 497
Aston Villa – 68
To many, still the greatest player ever to pull on the gold and black shirt. The Dover-born inside-right banged in 145 goals in 497 league and cup games for Wolves.
Cited by no lesser authorities George Best and Sir Alex Ferguson as their favourite childhood player, Broadbent spent 14 years at Molineux.
He spent a year at Shrewsbury before joining Villa in 1966. The claret and blues were relegated in his first season.
He played 68 times for Villa over three seasons, scoring twice. He is undoubtedly, one of the greatest players to have played for both Aston Villa and Wolves.