Lifelong Aston Villa/Birmingham fan

Craig Gardner started his football career at Aston Villa when he was lad. He claimed Villa were the team he had always supported. Until he joined Birmingham…

April 2007: “I signed for Villa when I was 15 and since then these have been the best days of my life. I’m a Villa fan. I’ve come through the ranks and nothing can be better. I used to be on the Holte End. I was there when we beat Tranmere in the League Cup semi-final. I was at the game when Mark Bosnich saved the penalty and we all ran on to the pitch so it’s come from that. When I was watching Villa as a kid there were people like Garry Parker, Dalian Atkinson and Paul McGrath. They were all brilliant. I used to sing their names and now I look at the crowd and they’re chanting my name so it’s great.”

Then, in January 2010, Birmingham signed him and after claiming to be a lifelong Villa fan, changed his tune.

January 2010: “Having played for the Villa everyone thinks I’m a Villa fan but I’m a Bluenose. I have been all my life. I was a mascot at John Frain’s testimonial. But I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. People who know me, my close friends and family, they all know I’m a Blues fan. As they say: ‘once a blue, always a blue’.”

Once a blue, always a blue… until they get relegated. Then it’s once a blue, now a Mackem.

June 2011: “It’s unbelievable, to be honest. As soon as I found out Sunderland were interested, it was a no-brainer.”

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