Martin Laursen will be missed by Aston Villa

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

Aston Villa captain Martin Laursen announced on Friday that he has been forced into retirement at the age of 31 after a succession of knee injuries.

The Danish centre back made 51 appearances for his country, with his debut coming back in 2000 against Portugal and partaking in a World Cup and two European Championships.

He made 209 appearances for the clubs he has played for. Having competed in two of the best leagues in the world, it marks the end of a highly accomplished career. After leaving Denmark for Italy in 1998, he made his debut at Hellas Verona in Serie B, but had an injury-plagued season.

He cemented his place in the starting lineup the following season, after the club was promoted to Serie A. Co-owned by Parma, he moved there in 2001. After only three weeks training at the club, he was picked up by AC Milan as cover for £8.7 million.

In his first four games for the club he scored twice. Yet as the more experienced players like Paolo Maldini and Allesandro Nesta returned from injury, Laursen found himself spending more time on the bench. He did however pick Serie A, Champions League and Coppa Italia medals in his time at the San Siro.

Due to the tough competition at Milan, Laursen moved to Aston Villa in 2004 for a snip at £4 million. However the knee injury that had troubled him at Verona returned and despite some promising performances in 2004-05 and 2005-06 season, he spent most of his time under the knife or recovering.

He managed to overcome his problems in early 2007, and soon made himself an integral part of O’Neill’s team. He soon won the fans over earning the nickname ‘Lion heart Laursen’. He extended his stay at the club by 2 years at the beginning of the 2007-08 season.

He impressed throughout the season, and earn the accolade of ‘Supporters Player of the Season 2008’, while establishing himself as one of the league’s top defenders. After the Gareth Barry transfer saga in the summer 2008, O’Neill handed Laursen the captain’s armband on a permanent basis.

Villa started 08-09 strongly. Soon surpassing Arsenal in the league table, they looked favorites to claim the fourth and final Champions League spot. Laursen left the Villans in fourth place when his reoccurring knee injuries flared up and forced him to sit out the rest of the season. Since, Martin O’Neills’ team’s form has slumped they have dropped down the table and could be now overtaken by Everton, leaving them in sixth.

At the back, the absence of Laursen has left a more youthful centre back pairing of Knight and Davies. Laursen was a great reader of the game and was an elegant centre back to watch. His courage and ferocious heading, earned him many plaudits and O’Neill will have a difficult job replacing him.

Laursen spoke to the press on Friday and said:

“This time, it would be even harder to recover than before. Because it would take a minimum of one year to recover and I had just one year left on my contract, I decided to stop now.

“I am pleased with what I achieved during my career. I am proud of the matches I’ve played and I’m proud of what I did for Aston Villa.

“My only regret is that I did not come to England sooner. That is where I have been happiest. Here, my abilities were really appreciated.”

Aston Villa also released a statement saying:

“Villa are sad to announce Martin Laursen’s retirement from football.

“The retirement of the lion heart defender will be a huge loss to the players, the manager and the fans.”

Laursen will certainly be missed in the Premiership. A player with easily enough ability to have played for a ‘Big Four’ club, it’s a shame that injury prevented him from fulfilling Aston Villa’s dream of Champions League football next season.


MORE: The latest football transfer news

MORE: Meet the Premier League's most stylish footballers

MORE: Do you know the top Muslim footballers in the Premier League?

MORE: Man United latest news

MORE: Arsenal latest news

MORE: Chelsea latest news

MORE: Liverpool latest news

Rotterdam Open
The Sport Review
Roger Federer sweeps past Grigor Dimitrov for 97th title in Rotterdam: ‘It’s great to win this way!’
The Sport Review
Top 50 most stylish footballers in the world in 2017: Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool stars feature
The Sport Review
Top 40 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United stars feature
The Sport Review
Top 25 footballers’ cars: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid players feature
The Sport Review
Top 20 Nigerian footballers in Premier League: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool stars feature
The Sport Review
Arsenal player wages 2017: Do you know how much Xhaka, Ozil and Coquelin earn each week?
The Sport Review
Eden Hazard delivers clear update on his Chelsea FC future
The Sport Review
Steven Gerrard reacts to Chelsea FC’s 1-1 draw with Barcelona
The Sport Review
Pat Nevin: What Paul Pogba needs to prove to Man United supporters