There are few players that move between fierce rivals. It is a rarity for a footballer to move from Newcastle to Sunderland, Liverpool to Everton, Arsenal to Tottenham and vice-versa, but one player has done just that by moving from Aston Villa to Birmingham and it has helped to kick start his career. Former Aston Villa midfielder Craig Gardner moved to St Andrews in the January transfer window for a sum of £3 million and he has gone from strength to strength in the blue half of Birmingham.
The move earlier this year was made even more surprising by the fact that Gardner spent the whole of his youth career at Villa Park, although he is a life-long Blue. In his five years at the club Gardner made over 50 Premier League appearances for Villa, but failed to hold down a first team place during his time at the club. This is the exact opposite at Birmingham where he has become an important first team player under Alex McLeish and has even been in great goal scoring form as well. He started off the season by scoring twice against Blackburn Rovers as Birmingham came from behind to win 2-1, and he also netted in the game against Bolton Wanderers.
There are few fiercer rivalries in the Premier League than the one between Aston Villa and Birmingham and both teams’ sets of fans will be greatly looking forward to the match at Villa Park on Sunday 31st October. It’s a particularly good time for football in the Midlands, with both Wolves and West Bromwich Albion being in the Premier League too meaning that there are 4 clubs within 12 miles of each other. But will we see many more players cross the Midlands divide any time soon. It’s definitely worked wonders for Gardner: