Who would forget the Aston Villa team of 2016/17 - the squad that won the club it's first ever treble?
Under the management of David Beckham, Aston Villa lifted the Capital One Cup, the FA Cup and the Europa League title in 2017. Players and legends marked their names in Aston Villa history that season.
Villa finished 12th, but the lowly position was not enough to dampen the club's spirits and the fans' joyful celebrations.
And who exactly were the players to bring the treble to Villa Park, and where are they now?
Let's take a look.
Aston Villa enjoyed a squad with two experienced goalkeepers packed with quality. One was Francesco Bardi, and the other was Samir Handanovic - two goalies previously involved with the Italian club Internazionale. But where are Bardi and Handanovic now?
Francesco Bardi - Aston Villa, Player
Bardi was signed from Internazionale on a free transfer that very summer. Not many can boast winning the treble in your debut season with a club, but Bardi certainly can. Quickly ousting Samir Handanovic as first-choice between the sticks, Bardi's goalkeeping played a part in Aston Villa's success. To this day, Bardi continues to be first-choice for the Villans, having made 144 appearances in the Premier League over a span of 5 years.
Samir Handanovic - Southampton, Player
Samir Handanovic signed for Aston Villa on a free transfer in 2015 after his contract with Internazionale and Udinese expired, and he was first-choice goalkeeper for a season, impressing and helping his team to the Europa League title and the Capital One Cup. However, the signing of Bardi meant he was quickly relegated to the bench, and he made only 9 appearances the following season. Handanovic was then sold to Southampton after Villa's treble season. The 36-year-old has made 117 appearances for the Saints, and is still currently their first-choice despite his aging.
Beckham had an array of brilliant defenders to choose from. Ciaran Clark was the natural first-choice in central defense, with Daniel Montero and Doria rotating regularly and Ron Vlaar playing backup. Yuto Nagatomo featured at right-back while at left-back was South American youngster John Romero.
Yuto Nagatomo - Celtic, Player
Yuto Nagatomo was signed in 2015 from Internazionale, reuniting with former Internazionale teammate Samir Handanovic. He impressed in his debut season, and was even better the next year, being the first-choice at right-back in Aston Villa's treble-winning squad. Following the treble win, the Japanese international enjoyed another 3 years at Aston Villa, before being sold to Everton. Unfortunately, he couldn't replicate the form he'd in Aston Villa for the Toffees, and moved on again after a year, this time to Scottish champions Celtic. It remains to be seen what he can accomplish with the Bhoys.
Ciaran Clark - Aston Villa, Player
Ciaran Clark became Aston Villa's first ever captain to lift the treble in 2016/17. Since breaking into the first team under David Beckham in 2012/13, Clark has been a revelation at Villa Park and is currently a club legend, club captain, as well as the owner of 315 league appearances. The 30-year-old has been through all the highs and lows. He also plays like a boss. What is not legendary about this guy? Nothing...? Exactly!
Ron Vlaar - Bayern Munich Under-19s, Manager
2016/17 was Ron Vlaar's last season as vice-captain. A reliable backup player, Vlaar was called upon regularly to cover for other first-team players. The Dutchman eventually hung up his boots after making 125 appearances for the Villans, in 2018. However, Vlaar wasn't forgotten by his former manager, who approached him to join Bayern as youth team manager immediately after his retirement.
Daniel Montero - Bayern Munich, Player
Essentially, 2016/17 was Daniel Montero's breakthrough season. Joining Aston Villa in 2015, Montero was expected to be placed in the Reserves and Under-18s, but the Uruguayan made such an impression on Beckham and his coaches that he was promoted to the first team straightaway, as backup to the more experienced first-choices. He was given his opportunity the next season and his inspired performances in defense saw Villa clinching the treble. We all probably know the rest. Montero developed into a solid first-choice in 2017, under new boss Malky Mackay, and formed an unbeatable partnership with Ciaran Clark, as well as catapulting himself right into the list of Europe's best defenders with his play. The departure of Fabian Delph saw Montero being handed the vice-captaincy in 2018, a position he held for 2 years, before making the move to Bayern Munich this summer, joining former boss David Beckham. Montero left Villa with 151 league appearances for the Villans in total.
Doria - Real Madrid, Player
Having been a loyal player for Aston Villa since his arrival in 2013, Doria usually faded in and out of the first team despite his consistency. It was the same for the Brazilian in the club's treble-winning season, as he was rotated with Daniel Montero. The wonder kid played amazingly well, but Doria didn't, at least, not as much - meaning the first-team responsibilities fell a little more to Montero. However, he featured much more under Malky Mackay, making 31 league appearances in Mackay's first season as Aston Villa manager. But he was quickly up and away, joining Beckham at Bayern Munich where he stayed for one and a half year, before moving on to Real Madrid.
John Romero - Aston Villa, Player
John Romero was signed for a bargain 975k in 2014 from the Colombian's hometown club, Tolima. His young age did not affect his place in the team as Romero quickly established himself as the best left-back at the club, beating off competition from Aaron Cresswell. Romero made 26 league appearances in the Villans' treble-winning season, but his success did not stop there, with the teenager quickly becoming world famous as one of European football's top full-backs. So far, Romero has made 157 appearances for Villa in a period of 7 years.
Although not as strong as the club's defensive options, Aston Villa's midfield was still a force to be reckoned with. Fabian Delph and Will Hughes were the two key players in the Villans' midfield that season. But where are they now?
Fabian Delph - Free Agent
Fresh from winning the Footballer of the Year award and being named in the Premier League Team of the Season, Fabian Delph was ready to improve on their previous season's double win in 2016/17, and improve they did. Delph flaunted his talents in midfield, being Villa's main man in the center of the pitch as he made 34 league appearances. His impressive and consistent performances under David Beckham led to a total of 158 Premier League appearances for the Villans, and he was even awarded the vice-captaincy for his loyalty in 2017, replacing Ron Vlaar. However, Beckham's departure in the same year spelt an end to his Villa career, with new manager Malky Mackay not favoring him in the team, and after his debut season as vice-captain was spent sitting on the bench, Delph was sent packing to Southampton. He hardly impressed with the Saints and was released after the expiry of his contract, making only 12 appearances over 2 years.
Will Hughes - Bayern Munich, Player
Joining Aston Villa from Derby in 2013, Will Hughes has only gone from strength to strength since then. By 2016, Hughes was a first-team player and along with Fabian Delph, he was a key component in the club's treble win. He also showed his versatility, and was fielded in various positions that season, including places like the right and left wing. His continued consistency and brilliance led to a big move to Bayern Munich in 2018, as he reunited with David Beckham. Playing in the Bundesliga only served to up his game and Hughes is now a first-choice player for one of the best teams in the world.
Marilia - Aston Villa, Player
Aston Villa's treble season was Marilia's debut year at the English club, having been brought in from Corinthians upon recommendations from club scouts. Marilia showed flashes of brilliance when given his chances but mostly played as a rotation or backup option in 2016/17. But he has flourished under Malky Mackay and is now considered one of the best midfielders in Europe, as well as possessing 115 league appearances for Villa.
Jesus Blanco - Bayern Munich, Player
2016/17 was only Jesus Blanco's second year at the club. The Paraguayan youngster forced his way into a squad consisting of various other youngsters like Daniel Montero and John Romero, his bid for first-team chances boosted by Beckham's preference to go for youth that season. Blanco played regularly in midfield alongside Will Hughes & Fabian Delph, and impressed greatly as Villa won the treble. Beckham was keen to retain Blanco's services after he moved clubs, and Blanco promptly joined Bayern Munich a year later in 2018, ending his Villa career with 73 league appearances for them.
Jack Cork - Tottenham, Player
Jack Cork never really managed to play as well as he did for Southampton at Aston Villa. The former Saints captain was brought in for 26 million in 2016/17 but only made 14 appearances in the Premier League, with an injury ruling him out for most of the campaign. His next few years at Villa under Malky Mackay was spent as a backup player, and Cork lost his place in the England team. He finally left the club this summer, linking up with Tottenham.
Wellington Nem - Aston Villa, Player
Since his arrival in 2012, Wellington Nem has been a vital player for Aston Villa, and he continued to be in 2016/17, playing a key part of the team as the Villans clinched the treble. Now an Aston Villa club legend and second vice-captain, Wellington Nem has made 262 league appearances for the club. This year will be his 10th season as an Aston Villa player.
Mattheus - Manchester United, Player
Rising to the ranks of the first team in time for 2016/17, Mattheus was usually fielded on the left wing and it was a position he reveled in, putting in some fantastic performances. But he was soon gone, joining David Beckham at Bayern Munich in 2018 , where he made 49 appearances in the Bundesliga. However, with an array of new signings, the Brazilian returned to England, where he has joined Premier League giants Manchester United.
Aston Villa didn't have much of a forward line to boast in 2016/17, but they had some decent striking options anyway! Carlos Fierro, Adam Campbell and Jim Lawless - three of them all very young strikers with high prospects. Did they ever fulfill their potential, though? Let's find out.
Carlos Fierro - Aston Villa, Player
Villa's treble season was Carlos Fierro's second year at the club. Playing as a lone poacher up front, Fierro only managed to score 15 goals in 34 appearances - a rather low return. Villa snagged the treble all the same, anyway. But in later years, as we would find out, Fierro evolved into a lethal beast, easily scoring over 20 goals in one season. The Mexican striker claimed the fame with his consistency and his insane amount of goals, and with his loyalty, was promoted to vice-captain of the squad following the departure of Daniel Montero.
Adam Campbell - Aston Villa, Player
Part of an exchange deal in 2012 which saw Charles N'Zogbia make the move to Newcastle, Adam Campbell was once labelled as the next Alan Shearer, but he has failed to live up to his potential, with Darren Bent and later Carlos Fierro blocking his various opportunities to break into the first team. His goalscoring record has also been very poor, and he is expected to be released from the club sometime soon.
Jim Lawless - Aston Villa, Player
Originally a youngster with plenty of potential, Jim Lawless has become nothing more than a simple backup option for the club. Refused plenty of opportunities by Malky Mackay and also because of Carlos Fierro's brilliance, Lawless never got his chance and the Irish teen is still regularly playing for the club's Reserves at the age of 22.
I gave you a thanks for that, not for the post (which was excellent mind) but for the dedication you show to this story to spend sooooooooooo long updating!
Go have yourself a Red Bull, Glenn, you're gonna need one