Aston Villa Europa Conference League verdict delivered by former Liverpool and Man City star

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.

One of Aston Villa's former players from the late 1990s has given his take on the class of 2024.

David James has backed his former club Aston Villa to win the UEFA Europa Conference League and has hailed the work of Unai Emery.

The 53-year-old played 85 times for Villa from 1999 to 2001, finishing as FA Cup runners-up under John Gregory, securing sixth and eighth placed finishes in the Premier League. He had a 26-year playing career that saw him represent the England national team 53 times and he was able to play in various different countries and continents for both club and country.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

James believes that Villa are capable of going on to win the Conference League after seeing one of his former clubs West Ham win it last season. Villa finished top of their group which consisted of Legia Warsaw, AZ Alkmaar and Zrinjski Mostar which gave them a direct passage to the Round of 32.

“I absolutely think the Europa Conference League would be the cherry on the cake for Aston Villa this season," said James to Lord Ping.

"I was at the Europa Conference League Final last year watching West Ham lift that trophy and the West Ham fans were buzzing.

"When the tournament was established, there were a few raised eyebrows. People wondered if we really needed a third-tier European competition, but having played in Iceland, which is, respectively a third-tier football country, you have to go through several preliminary rounds to get to the competition group stage. It means an awful lot to some of those smaller clubs from smaller nations because the money helps them massively.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The point is that if you’re a fan of a club from a larger European league playing in the tournament, then you’re going to have some unbelievable adventures. Most fans dream of those moments. I go back to my days playing for Portsmouth when we were playing in Europe, and we had AC Milan and Ronaldinho playing at Fratton Park! Unbelievable times.

"The fact that Villa are currently fourth and are leading the way in terms of taking a Champions League space doesn’t diminish what they are doing in the Europa Conference League. I hope they can go on and win it, lift a European trophy while qualifying for the Champions League through their domestic form. If I’m in that changing room, I’d be looking at the other teams in the competition and would be thinking we can do this."

Villa play four time European cup winners AFC Ajax, who they clash with for the first time since 2008. The first leg takes place at the Johan Cruyff Arena on Thursday, March 7 before the return leg at Villa Park a week later on March 24. The other teams remaining in the competition that could cause problems are Fenerbahce, Lille and Serie A outfit Fiorerntina.

Should Villa win the competition then they would qualify for the Europa League, however the Villains are currently fourth in the Premier League which would give them a place in the Champions League group stages.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.