O'Neill proud of Aston Villa's three England lions
Jun 4 2010 by Mat Kendrick
Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill believes the claret and blues can take reflected glory from playing their part in the England World Cup call-ups of the club’s very own Three Lions.
James Milner, Emile Heskey and Stephen Warnock have all been selected by head coach Fabio Capello to represent the country on football’s biggest stage in South Africa this month.
Milner and Heskey were expected to be including in the travelling 23-man travelling party, but Warnock was a surprise inclusion at the expense of Everton defender Leighton Baines.
Capello lost faith with Baines, even though former Blackburn defender Warnock sat out both of England’s final two warm-up games.
“I am delighted that three have made the squad,” said O’Neill. “It was particularly pleasing for Stephen because he may have thought his chances had been lessened somewhat by not participating in either of the two warm-up games.
“It really is very, very pleasing that those three are in the final 23 of the England team going to try and win the World Cup.
“You’d have to say playing for your country is an accolade bestowed on not that many people and so it is a fantastic honour.
“I am sure all three players will be proud - proud of themselves - and their family will be very proud of them.
“But we at Aston Villa are particularly proud of them because they have represented the football club here in the past with obvious excellent distinction.”
While Heskey was already an established England player, Milner and Warnock joined Villa to further their international ambitions and O’Neill is proud that the club have helped them to achieve their aims.
“I think, in particular, Stephen and James came to the football club obviously with decent aspirations of trying to improve as footballers and, as a consequence of that, they’d be trying to improve with better players around them,” he said. “So it’s an ambition realised for both of those players.
“In the case of Emile, he had quite a number of England caps while at other football clubs and so he has been able to draw on all that experience for England to keep himself very much in the limelight.
“As far as we are concerned at Aston Villa, we bask in a bit of reflected glory that all three will be representing their country and hopefully playing a big part in proceedings.”