Ex-Hatters and Villains defender Paul Elliott has his 'heart' with Luton at Villa Park

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Centre half will be cheering on Town this afternoon

Former Luton and Aston Villa defender Paul Elliott will be cheering on the Hatters when his two old clubs go head to head at Villa Park this afternoon.

The centre half played 73 games for Town between 1983-85, the last time they were a top flight club, before being sold for £400,000 to the Villains.

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Giving his thoughts on a first league meeting between the sides since April 25, 1992, Elliott said: “I'll be watching that game on Match of the Day with great respect and affection for both clubs, especially Luton as my heart’s there.

Former Town defender Paul Elliott goes up for a header during his time with Luton - pic: Hatters HeritageFormer Town defender Paul Elliott goes up for a header during his time with Luton - pic: Hatters Heritage
Former Town defender Paul Elliott goes up for a header during his time with Luton - pic: Hatters Heritage

“I’ve got friends where I live in Kent, my mates go up to watch Luton every week, great supporters.

"I look back at my career, I’ve played in multiple environments, went to Italy, went to Scotland and playing at Luton, I loved all my career.

"I loved being a professional footballer, I’m very lucky to have played against Maradona, Careca, Van Basten and Gullit in Italy, but playing for Luton under David (Pleat), on and off the pitch was one of the happiest moments of my life."

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With the Hatters picking up a 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest on Saturday, it meant they moved a point away from the drop zone, although dropped back to third bottom yesterday after Bournemouth's 2-1 victory over Burnley.

Elliott believes Town are giving their bid for survival a real go though, continuing: "I’ve seen some of their games, I watched them against Chelsea, they’re competitive.

"They got a fabulous result at Everton, a great result, so that should give them great confidence.

"They are competing, that’s the most important thing, they’re doing themselves justice.”

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On Villa, who Elliott spent two years with before leaving in 1987 to go Italian Serie A side Pisa and then featuring for Celtic and Chelsea, the former England U21 international added: "They've re-emerged too.

"They've got a manager (Unai Emery) with a proven track record, who's won the Europa Cup three times.

"They’re a big club, it's always a pressure playing for Aston Villa, but they’re doing extremely well.

"When I was there, there were some top players, Alan Evans was a top centre half, Nigel Spink, Gary Shaw, Mark Walters, I loved it.

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"It was a tough time as it was a transition from the great European success.

"Graham Turner was rebuilding a second team, but it never worked out, he got sacked, Billy McNeil came in and we had a talented side.

"It was a huge club, huge pressure, huge expectation, again, playing at the top level in Division One."

The fact that Elliot actually played at centre half for either side hadn’t looked likely when he was starting out in the game, as having not been taken up by either Luton or Chelsea during trials, he was a tricky right winger playing for Sunday League side Yarnton FC.

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However, it was a move to his boyhood Charlton that saw him discover the position that would enable him to go on and have a fantastic career, as he added: “The reality is, I always had an instinct, as I remember I played for a Yarnton FC, they were run by a really nice guy called Mike Dove and I said, ‘Mike, I really would love a go at centre half.’

“We had a centre half and he was all right, but I was thinking, I can do what he’s doing.

“He wanted me more offensively, just for my pace, but it didn’t materialise, so I went to Charlton, I’d always supported them as a kid, and went there formally when I was about 13.

“There’s a great scout that David (Pleat) knew called Les Gore, it was he who discovered Paul Walsh for Charlton, he said to me, Paul we think you’re okay as winger, but we've had some discussions and we’re going to try you out as a centre half.

“I said great, I’d love to, played one game at centre half, within 18 months as a 16, 17-year-old, I was in the first team at Charlton and the rest is history."