Aston Villa legend Aitken dies, aged 81

Aston Villa legend Charlie Aitken has died at the age of 81.

The club’s all-time record appearance holder played 660 times for Villa between his debut in 1961 and departure in 1976 – all at left-back.

The Scot then spent a final season with New York Cosmos in the United States, playing alongside the great Pele.

Aitken was part of the Villa side that beat Norwich City to win the League Cup in 1975 – their first Wembley win since the club’s last FA Cup triumph in 1957.

He played in the Villa team that struggled in the 1960s, dropping from the top flight down to the third division, but then made the journey back.

Villa returned to the second tier in 1971-72, before Ron Saunders’ side reached Division One in that 1974-75 League Cup-winning season, being promoted in second place behind Manchester United.

Edinburgh-born Aitken, who went to a rugby-playing school, played for junior clubs in Scotland before joining Villa on trial in 1959.

He made his senior debut at home to Sheffield Wednesday in the last match of the 1960-61 season, on the day Villa’s 1957 FA Cup-winning captain Johnny Dixon played his final game for the club.

Aitken went on to win three under-23 caps for Scotland.

He played under six Villa managers – Joe Mercer, Dick Taylor, Tommy Cummings, Tommy Docherty, Vic Crowe and Saunders.

Aitken continued to live in the Midlands and remained a regular and very popular figure at Villa Park during retirement.

Aston Villa said: “Charlie established a Villa record which will almost certainly never be broken.

“To give an indication of the magnitude of his achievement, the next two highest Villa appearance-makers are the club’s record scorer Billy Walker with 531 and European Cup winner Gordon Cowans on 527.

“The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Charlie’s family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.”

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