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The 11 Irish Players At Aston Villa In 2012 - Where Are They Now?

The 11 Irish Players At Aston Villa In 2012 - Where Are They Now?
By Mikey Traynor Updated

Aston Villa has a strong tradition in terms of Irish influence, but the year 2012 represents the peak of this as no fewer than 11 senior and underage Republic of Ireland internationals were on the club's books.

Of course, the likes of Paul McGrath, Ray Houghton, Andy Townsend, and Steve Staunton are directly responsible for the spattering of Villa fans around the country (we all know one), but in the current squad that sit in 17th place in the Championship at the time of writing this piece, only new arrival Conor Hourihane is flying the tricolour.

That may or may not be the reason why Villa are struggling under Steve Bruce, but the lack of Irishness in the squad is somewhat strange, especially considering that just five years ago the club had a staggering amount of Irish players at the club.

Graham Burke, Samir Carruthers, Michael Drennan, Ciaran Clark, Robbie Keane, Shay Given, Richard Dunne, Stephen Ireland, Enda Stevens, Derrick Williams, and Daniel Devine, all pictured above, could have formed an all-Irish XI for Aston Villa at the time, although that wouldn't have been a great idea.

A good idea, at least to us, is to follow-up and see where all of those players are today, so here you go:

Shay Given

Current club: Stoke City

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After starting Stoke's first five games of the Premier League season in the absense of Jack Butland, Shay then lost his place to Lee Grant who has managed to hold on to it since.

He travelled to France with the Ireland Euro 2016 squad and although he didn't see a minute of action he was given a fantastic reception after the loss to the host nation as he called time on his international career. He may well play on after this season concludes, but he will be a backup at Stoke unless he pursues first-team football somewhere else.

Given spent four years at Villa and made 37 appearances, 32 of which came in his first season at the club when he was first choice.

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Richard Dunne

Current club: TV3/BT Sport (Pundit)

The big man is now making his first steps in pundity and is most regularly seen doing the Champions League coverage for BT Sport whenever Man City are playing. He also works for TV3.

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Dunne made 95 appearances for Villa before moving to QPR in 2013 where he would retire after two seasons. He was an ever-present in his first three seasons but left the club on a free transfer after missing a year due to injury.

Ciaran Clark

Current club: Newcastle United

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After coming through the ranks, Ciaran Clark left Villa in the summer of 2016 having been there since the year 2000.

In his 7 years in the first team Clark made 134 appearances, enough to see him break into the Irish national team, but Rafa Benitez managed to convince him to head North after both Newcastle and Villa were relegated last season.

Clark has been in good form for both club and country this season, and already has two goals to his name for the Magpies.

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Derrick Williams

Current club: Blackburn Rovers

Another defender who came through the ranks at Villa, Williams only made one first-team appearance before moving on to Bristol City.

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He now plays for Blackburn Rovers, and although their season has been very poor up until this point Williams has been solid from left-back.

A former U21 captain, he is yet to make the breakthrough to the full senior setup.

Enda Stevens

Current club: Portsmouth

After impressing during Shamrock Rover's Euopa League run in 2011, Enda Stevens was snapped up by Villa where he would go on to make 7 first-team appearances.

Now part of the furniture at Fratton Park having joined Portsmouth in 2015, Stevens he's made over 70 appearances in the last two seasons as he is attempting to help the club back up into League One.

He has 3 caps for Ireland at U21 level.

Daniel Devine

Current club: Partick Thistle

When Aston Villa reached the FA Youth Cup Final in 2010, Daniel Devine was one of the stars of the promising side that lost 3-2 to Chelsea.

He never made the breakthrough at Villa, and after returning home to play for Cherry Orchard he signed for Firhouse in 2013 and was then picked up by Shamrock Rovers in January.

Stephen Ireland

Current club: Stoke City

Currently recovering from a broken leg, Stephen Ireland has not played a minute of Premier League football this season.

His time at Villa never quite worked out, as he made 47 appearances across four seasons that included loans to Newcastle and Stoke, who would eventually take him on a permanent deal.

The Stoke move would be better for Ireland, but as higher profile players were brought in, Ireland's role was marginalised over time and his weird relationship with the Irish national team has resulted in the Cobh native sort of fading out of the limelight.

Samir Carruthers

Current club: Sheffield United

Another member of the 2010 FA Youth Cup side, you've almost certainly heard about Carruthers in recent times, although sadly it would have been the fallout after he was caught pissing into a pint glass at Cheltenham.

After three appearances in the Villa first team, Carruthers moved to MK Dons where he impressed in an impressive side that earned promotion to League One at the end of last season.

In January, Sheffield United paid in the region of £250,000 to bring him to Bramall Lane.

Graham Burke

Current club: Shamrock Rovers

After making the move across from Belvedere to Villa in 2010, Burke never broke into the first team and eventually joined Notts County on a permanent deal after impressing on loan.

For County, he made 10 appearances in two seasons before the club were relegated to League Two, where he played 31 times scoring 2 goals.

Just last week Shamrock Rovers announced his arrival ahead of the news season.

Michael Drennan

Current club: Evergreen FC

Now playing junior football in his native Kilkenny, Drennan took a step away from the game last year as he admitted that he was battling depression. Thankfully, word is that he is getting on well and is enjoying his football again.

Drennan never made an appearance for Villa but played for both Carlisle and Portsmouth in the Football League. Upon returning to Ireland with Rovers he bagged 3 goals in 37 games. He has caps for Ireland at U17, U19, and U21 level.

Robbie Keane

Current club: Free Agent

Keeeeeeeeano!

We know exactly what he is up to now, as he uploaded some back garden football in Dublin with his son earlier this week, but his playing career is not over yet.

After recently raising eyebrows by training with Ah Ahly in Dubai, it became clear that he was just keeping fit while abroad and a return to English football remains the most likely option.

Robbie was only at Villa on loan from LA Galaxy back when players used to pop home while the American league was in it's off-season, and he managed to score three goals in the six games he played for the Birmingham club.

That's the lot, and while it wouldn't have made a very formidable XI to play a game, it's still a rather impressive to be a part of such a big collection of Irish players at one club at the same time.

It seems mad that none of them are still at the club five years later, and the players enjoyed mixed fortunes after moving on, but that's how it is and hopefully we see more of an Irish influence at the club in the near future.

[Image credit AVFC.co.uk]


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