Aston Villa might not have realised it at the time, but when they took to the field against Coventry City on February 27, 1999, they did something no other Premier League club would do for at least another 20 years.
Villa manager John Gregory named an all-English XI for the Midlands derby at Villa Park, and though it wouldn’t have seemed particularly unusual at the time, no team has done it since in the Premier League.
Even Villa’s three substitutes on the day were English, but it’s fair to say it didn’t do them much good as Coventry cruised to a 4-1 victory.
Used on and off over three seasons for Villa, Oakes eventually left for regular football at Wolves, where he made over 200 appearances for the club, after David James arrived at Villa Park.
He ended his career with a spell at Cardiff City and remains in Wales now as a goalkeeping coach for Conference National side Wrexham.
Known for being one of the shortest players the Premier League has ever seen, standing at only 5ft 4ins tall, Wright, nicknamed ‘The Mighty Atom’, played over 250 times for Aston Villa following successful spells at Blackpool and Blackburn.
The full-back was also known for having to return a Ferrari due to developing RSI while driving it. He was described as being “traumatised” at having to wave goodbye to his pride and joy.
After playing for a further nine clubs, he moved into coaching as assistant manager at Blackpool and then Northwich Victoria before he was last seen as Southport manager.
He said in 2013 “in five years I’d like to think I’ll be ready” for Premier League management, but he was sacked by Southport that December and hasn’t had a job since.
A proper Aston Villa hero, Southgate only played for three clubs in his whole career. enjoying equally impressive spells at Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough.
He also represented England 57 times and is now a national hero having played a major role in the Three Lions’ recapturing hearts on their way to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018.
We love him.
🗓 ON THIS DAY: Saturday, 1st July 1995
Aston Villa sign Gareth Southgate from Crystal Palace for £2,500,000.
— avfchistory (@avfchistory) July 1, 2019
Watson played for another decade after Aston Villa’s clash with Coventry in 1999.
His versatility was key to prolonging his career – he wore every shirt number from 2–11 at least once during his time at Newcastle – before long-term injury problems meant he had to hang up his boots at Sheffield Wednesday in 2009.
Ex-Newcastle team-mate Lee Clark gave him a job at Huddersfield Town in 2010 as development coach before he moved with Clark to Birmingham as coach in 2012.
The pair were sacked by the Blues in 2014 and Watson waited until 2016 to get back into football as the assistant manager of Macclesfield Town.
He got his first job as a No.1 with Gateshead in 2017 and took over at York City in January 2019 where he still resides with his side sat 2nd in the National League North.
His spell at Cardiff City aside, Scimeca loved the Midlands with Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest, Leicester City and West Brom making up his CV. He made over 400 career appearances and was a runner-up in the 2008 FA Cup.
It isn’t completely clear what Scimeca has been doing since his retirement from football in 2009, but we can presume he has been fuelling his passion for property.
“I’ve always had that passion, even when I was playing,” he told Wales Online in 2013. “If there is a deal to be done I’ll look at it.
“Buying, selling or renting – all aspects are enjoyable. It’s also important to spend time with my two young children and that’s something I really enjoy.”
The ex-defender’s last known job in football was with Solihull Moors – in the Midlands, of course – when he joined the club in February 2015 as head of youth coaching.
As a lifelong Aston Villa supporter, Taylor’s committed displays helped him become a legend at the club. He earned his dream move to Villa Park in 1994 following a brief spell at Sheffield Wednesday and was a member of the side which mounted an unlikely title challenge in 1998-99.
In his post-retirement years, the 49-year-old has been a regular at Villa Park, occasionally appearing on Aston Villa’s online TV channel, AVTV, and has been known to cover Derby County matches for the BBC.
Taylor has also become somewhat of an entrepreneur by creating the iT7 Audio brand of speakers and headphones.
One of the most 90s footballers ever – capable of moments of genius on the pitch but a renegade off it before the years of uber-professionalism.
“I absolutely loved it at Villa. It was the best part of my career, no doubt. I adored my football at Villa,” Merson told the club’s official website in 2013.
“When I left, I was devastated. It was the only time I ever cried when I left a football club.”
Merson is now best known as one of the pundits on Soccer Saturday and in October 2017 briefly came out of retirement to join Caerau FC of the Welsh Football League Division Three.
Best known as a manager nowadays, some of you may have forgot that Grayson was a pretty decent midfielder in his day.
He started his career at Leeds United before appearing for a further eight clubs.
His final stint saw him captain Blackpool and make over 100 appearances for the club before he took over as boss.
He led the Tangerines to the Championship before moving on to Leeds, Huddersfield Town, Preston North End, Sunderland and Bradford. Grayson returned to the helm at Blackpool ahead of the 2019-20 season, 11 years on from his departure.
You may be surprised to hear Hendrie appeared for 17 clubs in his 20-year career having dropped down the pyramid to play for the likes of Daventry Town, Chasetown and Redditch United, eventually hanging up his boots in 2014 after a spell with Northern Premier League Division One South club Basford United.
The one-cap England midfielder has spoken about his battle with depression and admitted that he tried to take his own life in 2010 while still playing.
However, Hendrie has now rebuilt his life, occasionally appearing as a pundit on Sky, while he has also set up the Lee Hendrie Academy for teenagers between the age of 16 and 19.
“Wayne Rooney told me I was the best centre-back he’d played against. He said he couldn’t do anything,” Dublin told us about his ability to operate both up front and at the back – another 90s phenomenon.
Since retiring, Dublin has since been involved heavily in the media with appearances on Sky Sports, BBC Radio 5 Live and Match of the Day 2.
He somehow got himself into presenting Homes Under The Hammer on BBC One, while he is also famous for inventing the The Dube, a wooden box percussion instrument. You may laugh, but the likes of Stevie Wonder own one…
Clearly a lover of the beautiful game, Joachim has had 20 different clubs in his career and still isn’t finished.
Starting at Leicester, the striker played for Aston Villa, Coventry, Leeds, Walsall, Boston United and Darlington before dropping into non-league.
Joachim has gone on to represent clubs including Quorn, Coalville Town, Shepshed Dynamo and Newark Town, and in 2018 signed for Notts Senior League side Aslockton & Orston at the ripe old age of 43.
He joined Gibraltar National League side Europa Point in July 2019 as a player and advisor, but left without featuring, joining Bourne Town a month later. He is also the co-founder of PlayerTrader.com, which allows players and clubs to collaborate.
Barry has gone on to become the Premier League’s all-time leading appearance maker having become the division’s ultimate Mr Reliable.
Not always appreciated by the wider public, Barry is certainly well loved by fans of Villa, Everton, Manchester City and West Brom, the latter being the club he currently resides with.
FUN FACT 🚨
— Charlton Athletic FC (@CAFCofficial) January 5, 2020
A successful career, in which Stan Collymore represented Nottingham Forest, Liverpool and Aston Villa among others, has led to a media-heavy career post-retirement.
He left Radio 5 Live as a summariser after the 2008 Champions League final to become a presenter and co-commentator on talkSPORT.
The former striker’s contract wasn’t renewed in 2016, however, as he went on to present The Stan Collymore Show on RT.com.
In 2005, he also played Kevin Franks in Basic Instinct 2…
Draper had a fairly unremarkable career but was a solid midfielder for Premier League sides Leicester City, Aston Villa and Southampton.
The former England Under-21 international retired in 2009 and went on to become Notts County’s kit man.
Other interests have led him to be involved in property management, while he has a soccer school in Nottingham with ex-Villa team-mate Dave Norton called ‘Draper Norton Football’.
Wonder how they came up with that?