Gabby Agbonlahor is one of the most iconic figures to have played in the claret and blue of Aston Villa in recent memory thanks in part to his knack of scoring against bitter rivals Birmingham City in the ‘Second City Derby’.
The former forward notched five goals in seven appearances against Villa’s arch-rivals, and he told The Sportman’s Chris Sutton that it was very much personal when he played against City.
“I hated them,” he told The Sportsman.
“It was sort of like going to war. You knew we were going out there and you’re playing against a team, you don’t like any of their players and you see them as an enemy.
“The fans that have come to watch and around the world don’t want to lose that game. It’s not an option to lose, I think in the game I stopped one on the line because I was on the line for corners and I was a bit like ‘Whoa, that nearly went in.’ Even to just go down the other end and get the winner, I can still feel the adrenaline today.
“It’s something that I’d tell my oldest son about, he feels the adrenaline as well because it’s the sort of game that you don’t lose. Just to score that winner and shine the light on the Villa fans, it was just massive.”
While intimidating, Agbonlahor is adamant that the hostile reception he received from the Blues and other local rival clubs did anything but put him off.
“[It is] the best, definitely. Especially at their place, it’s a tighter pitch and you’ve got the fans giving you abuse,” he added.
“I actually enjoyed every bit of abuse from all kinds of local teams - Wolves, West Brom, Blues. It made me play better and want to score more and chase the defender more. Every time I played against them I did more than likely score against them.
“It’s funny because they think they’re putting you off but they’re doing the opposite. If you look at the recent Villa-Blues derby, it’s the same thing. Try and put a player off and they’ll want to do better against you.”
With Aston Villa recently returning to the top-flight and Birmingham still floundering in the Championship, it might be a while before we see another ‘Second City Derby’ but the blue half of Birmingham will be relieved that when they do meet Villa again, Gabby Agbonlahor will only be watching on from the stands.