Paul McGrath will go down in history as one of the great Irish players of all-time.
His performances in a green jersey over the years were nothing short of extraordinary. The fact that he seemed to peak in major tournaments was the more impressive, with his display against Italy at the 1994 World Cup widely regarded as the best we have ever seen from an Ireland player. His exploits against the Dutch four years previous is one of the only other contenders.
When discussing his career, McGrath was so good for Ireland that many people tend to overlook his club exploits somewhat. Of course, he more than performed on that stage.
The defender is one of only four Irishmen (alongside Johnny Carey, Liam Brady, and Roy Keane) to be named PFA Player of the Year, the biggest individual award in English football.
In fact, today marks the 29th anniversary of the day that Paul McGrath would win the gong as an Aston Villa player.
It's 29 years to the day since Paul McGrath was named PFA Player of the Year 🏆
What a player 💚 pic.twitter.com/d4lM1CGusT
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) April 1, 2022
That season saw the midlanders launch a sustained title bid in the Premiership's debut campaign, with an Irish contingent of Andy Townsend, Steve Staunton, and Ray Houghton all playing a key part.
McGrath was the best of them. He had the most complete season of his career, something that was market in this ceremony.
Always one of the most humble footballers you will ever come across, his acceptance speech on the night perfectly summed up the man.
When asked how it felt to be named the best player in England, McGrath replied with a wry smile that it was "grand".
After a chuckle, this was his acceptance speech in full:
I'll just say what I meant to say.
Thanks to the rest of the Aston Villa team, all of the lads, for making this possible.
Unfortunately for Villa, they would fall away from title contention over the remaining weeks in the campaign and allow McGrath's former club Manchester United to win their first league title in 26 years.
While it would not end with silverware, this was certainly a memorable season for the Irishman.