How Aston Villa turned down the chance to sign Real Madrid hero Roberto Carlos

Aston Villa have had some sensational players in the past.

If you’re a fellow fan of the 1995-96 Villa players naming their favourite drinks, you’ll know they had top-notch talent like Dwight Yorke, Gareth Southgate and Andy Townsend.

Fast-forward to Martin O’Neill’s stint in charge of the club, and they boasted the likes of Gareth Barry, James Milner, Stewart Downing and Stilian Petrov.


And although Villa’s star has fallen somewhat, former chairman Doug Ellis came close to signing a player who would have most likely been the best player in the club’s history.

Ellis had watched Brazil left-back Roberto Carlos play in an international friendly at Villa Park against Sweden in 1995.

So enamoured was Ellis with Carlos’s ability in defence, that he approached the Brazilian association president about signing the pocket-sized left-back.


But none of this is very surprising. Of course Villa’s chairman would want to bring Roberto Carlos to the club. The slightly surprising thing was that the admiration was reciprocal.

So the story goes, the Brazilian was also impressed with the club and its facilities, and even professed he was interested in signing for the same wage as the highest-paid player at the club.

Unfortunately, then-manager Brian Little wasn’t keen on the risk of bringing the Palmeiras full-back to the Midlands, and stopped the deal in its tracks.

Instead, Roberto Carlos signed for Inter Milan for a season before joining Real Madrid, where he played more than 500 times, winning four La Liga titles, three Champions League medals, and a World Cup with Brazil.

In his pomp, his thunderbolt left peg was worth the admission fee at the Bernabeu alone, but Roberto Carlos was no show pony, he was an outstanding defender too.


Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I think the gamble may have been worth the risk in Bobby C’s case. Brian Little, what on earth have you done?

That said, he would have joined this lot:


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