This post marks the start of Season Five: 2016/17.
The Legends Retire
The start of a new season has seen Aston Villa veterans Frank Lampard
and Kolo Toure
call time on their playing careers.
All three of them only recently linked up with Villa after their footballing careers stagnated, but their time before joining the set-up at Villa Park had been absolutely spectacular.
Lampard started out at West Ham and quickly broke into the first-team after a short loan spell at Swansea. Not long after, his talent was recognized and Russian-owned club Chelsea purchased him for a fee of 11 million. Lampard carried his form at the Hammers over to Stamford Bridge, and eventually earned a spot in the England national team as well as vice-captaincy of the Blues. After 12 years, he was an icon at the club, but put an end to his Chelsea career, travelling to Germany and joining Schalke, where he had a successful season in the Bundesliga. In 2014, Lampard joined Aston Villa, and made 26 league appearances for the Villans in total before his retirement. He has indicated a desire to enter management with an English club.
Kaka was a Brazilian sensation, playing for clubs like Milan and Real Madrid. After being spotted in the youth set-up at Sao Paulo, Kaka joined AC Milan and was an immediate hit, making 30 Serie A appearances for the Rossoneri. After 6 years, he left to Real Madrid for a record fee of 51 million, but was often benched at the Bernabeu and joined Manchester City for 18 million just three years later. Although initially a hit at the Etihad Stadium, he soon fell out of favor as age caught up, and was shipped off to Aston Villa, making 32 league appearances in 2 seasons at Villa Park before his retirement. He has stayed loyal to the Birmingham club and re-signed on as a coach under manager David Beckham
Toure started his career at hometown club ASEC Mimosa, but was soon talent-spotted by Arsene Wenger
and left for Arsenal in 2002, and quickly broke into the first team the next season after a year turning out for the Gunners at youth level. Awarded the vice-captaincy, Toure frequently captained Arsenal but fell out with defensive partner William Gallas and demanded a move away from the club. He got it, joining Manchester City in the summer of 2009 for 14 million, but did not enjoy the same success he enjoyed at Arsenal, and after four years with the Citizens was sent on loan to Aston Villa and subsequently released, where he joined up with Villa again. A reliable defender in his first two seasons at Villa Park, Toure eventually fell to fifth choice behind Ciaran Clark, Ron Vlaar, Doria and Daniel Montero, and made only 1 appearance in the Premier League last season. The Ivorian has now retired and is expected to return to the Ivory Coast to find work.
Beckham has paid tribute to all three of the former Aston Villa players.
"They were all brilliant during their time here and although none of them got as much game time as I would have liked, they were all fantastic influences on the younger players. I wish them luck in their future careers.
"Having Kaka here on board the coaching team is also great. He's been such a good player, so why can't he be as good in a coaching position?"
Lampard admitted in an interview after his retirement that his time at Aston Villa was "enriching", and that it was "a club everyone would want to go to".
"Right now, Aston Villa are a club everyone would want to go to," the 38-year-old remarked. "Just under three years playing for them and I've loved every minute of it. I will always remember my time in an Aston Villa shirt, and especially the fans. They have been so good to me in my time there and I will never forget them. Villa will always be a part of me, as well as Schalke, Chelsea and West Ham."