The pioneering former Aston Villa manager you’ve forgotten even existed

Back in 1990, Aston Villa broke the mould and appointed the first foreign manager in the English top flight.

Doug Ellis unveiled this man to the bewildered press with the words, “do you know who this is?”

Back then, few knew who he was even though he had just led the Czech Republic to the quarter-finals at the Italia 90 World Cup.


Dr Jozef Venglos oversaw a bleak period in the club’s history, as the club narrowly avoided relegation from the First Division in the 1990-91 season.

David Platt, Paul McGrath and Gordon Cowans all struggled to adapt under the newcomer, and he earned the derision of the fans with some terrible results.

So bad was Venglos that the Birmingham Mail published a scathing editorial calling for the Czechoslovakian to be sacked, titled: FOR GOD’S SAKE GO, DR JO!

But Venglos would survive the remaining three games that season, before leaving the club in the summer.

Even though Dwight Yorke believe the manager was ahead of his time, it’s incredible how Venglos has been forgotten in English football.


Ask any football fan to name the first million-pound player (Trevor Francis) or the year the Premier League began (1992), or any other groundbreaking moment in English football, and they’ll be able to tell you in a heartbeat.

But ask them to name the first ever foreign manager in England’s top flight and they’ll probably struggle.

Despite being derided during his time at the club and largely forgotten in the years following his departure, Venglos had no regrets about his time there.

“For me it was a great honour and I tried to do my best at Villa,” he said.

“It was excellent experience getting to know the inside atmosphere of English football. Those situations have helped me with work in other countries.

“When I came over there, for foreign people it was more difficult than now, but lots of managers have come over and done well. I hope Gerard Houllier is one of them who is successful.”

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