Aston Villa were one of the finest teams in England in the early 1990s. Ron Atkinson led them to a runners-up position in the inaugural Premier League season in 1992/93, while the club also won two League Cup trophies in 1994 and 1996.
They signed the likes of Dean Saunders, Andy Townsend, and Savo Milosevic between 1992 and 1995, but if luck had gone their way, they could also have welcomed one of the finest full-backs to grace the modern game to Villa Park.
In 1995, the Villans had the chance to bring Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos to the Premier League following an impressive performance for Brazil against England at Villa Park.
The then-Palmeiras defender explained that he was on the brink of moving to the Midlands, saying: “I actually came close to joining Aston Villa early in my career. I met with the club, but nothing happened. Birmingham were also interested, but it didn’t go anywhere and I later joined Inter Milan.”
It was a case of what might have been for Villa, as had Carlos made the move to England, he surely would have dazzled with his free kick ability and tremendous power.
He moved to Inter Milan instead for just £3.15m, and following just one season in Serie A, Real Madrid came calling, and he went on to excel in Spain.
The thundering left-back won three Champions League titles and four La Liga crowns amongst a hatful of other honours at the Bernabeu.
Carlos also shone on the international stage, winning the World Cup, Copa America (twice) and Confederations Cup with Brazil in a Selecao career which spanned 14 years and garnered 127 caps, with arguably his most famous moment coming by scoring that free kick against France at Le Tournoi in 1997.
COPA90 lavished “incredible” praise on him for another stunning goal that he scored in the early days of his European career, a wonderful half-volley from an extremely acute angle which was hit with so much power that, if it didn’t hit the net, it would probably still be in flight.
Villa must rue missing out on the now 49-year-old, especially after the success that he went on to have with Real Madrid and Brazil.