It’s true to say, Villa have had some fantastic Scandinavian players over the years, with everyone having their particular favourite. With Most of Villa’s Scandi stars seeming to be defenders (for some reason), here are five of the best to have graced Villa Park in recent years.
The very definition of a cult hero, Olof Mellberg made well over 200 appearances for the club between 2001 and 2008.
Described by Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the best Swedish defender ever on his retirement, Mellberg’s obvious dislike of hated rivals Birmingham City helped to win the Villa’s fans’ love.
“I don’t particularly like Birmingham City,” Mellberg said once, while the defender memorably pumped his fists when leaving the pitch during the 5-1 win against the Blues in 2008.
Mellberg’s beard also made him stand out from the crowd, especially as this was before every other footballer seemed to have fancy facial fluff.
John Carew starred in some of Villa’s finest years in the Premier League, hitting a brace in in that famous 5-1 win against Birmingham City.
The Norway international was rarely prolific, but his aerial ability helped bring others into play and Carew was Villa’s top scorer for the 2007-08 season with 13 goals.
Carew hit 37 goals for Villa and was part of the squad that got to the League Cup final in 2010.
Oddly enough, Carew is now an actor and has starred in films including Dead of Winter and Høvdinger – both movies are well worth checking out for Villa fans.
Martin Laursen’s time at Villa Park was heavily disrupted by injury, but when he was fit he was a superb centre-back for the club.
Under the careful leadership of Martin O’Neill, who cut his training to keep him fit, Laursen became an integral part of the Villa side in the late 2000s, scoring regular goals from set pieces.
Laursen was named Villa’s Supporters’ Player of the Year in 2008 and shortly thereafter became the club’s captain, although injuries would soon take their toll and force the Dane to retire early.
The centre-back was so beloved that despite making only 84 appearances for the club, he was inducted into the Villa Legends section on the club’s official website.
The second Dane on our list of the best ever Scandinavian Villa players, Thomas Sorensen was the club’s first choice goalkeeper under both David O’Leary and Martin O’Neill.
Although his time at the club ended on bad terms as he slipped down the pecking order, Sorensen was a popular figure during his time at Villa Park, with a penalty save against Newcastle United and England striker Alan Shearer perhaps his greatest Villa highlight.
Shearer did not miss many penalties but spot kick specialist Sorensen foiled the now-Match of the Day pundit twice, earlier saving an effort in the Tyne-Wear derby, when he played for Sunderland.
Sorenson, who was capped over 100 times by Denmark, is still playing football at the age of 39, appearing in the A-League for Melbourne City.
It has been a pretty miserable season for Villa, but one bright spot amid the relentless gloom has been the return to fitness of 23-year-old defender Jores Okore.
An ACL injury ruled Okore out for 14 months, but since he made his comeback in a 1-1 draw at Southampton in December, Villa have only lost three of the 10 Premier League games he has played in.
Had the strong and quick Okore been fit for the whole campaign, Villa would likely be in a better position right now.