David Unsworth signed for Aston Villa in the summer of 1998 from West Ham United. Uncompromising, but effective, Unsworth was a welcome addition to the backline. If only he had played a game, we would have been afforded the luxury of testing this theory. In transfer history, it must go down as one of the strangest U-Turns ever.
Unsworth agreed to move to Villa on the basis that it was closer to his native northern England. The strong suggestion at the time was that the move to Villa was pressured by his wife’s desire to be closer to home, however, they both made the error that it was not nearly as close as they would have hoped. When asked, Unsworth had mixed up Birmingham and Bolton on the map.
Ironically enough, Unsworth had chosen to leave West Ham & London owing to his family’s inability to settle.
Unsworth then began commuting a 230 mile trip each day for training, having opted to live on Merseyside, despite having joined Villa.
He never played competitively for Aston Villa, stayed for around a month of pre-season in which time he is remembered only for injuring Dwight Yorke in training. Unsworth appeared in the pre-season friendly at Wycomble Wanderers (28.07.1998)
Upon approaching John Gregory, then Villa’s boss to ask to leave after only 5 days, he was told to “Fuck Off”, with Gregory believing it to be a “joke”. After persuasion from Unsworth’s agent, using his unhappiness as leverage, John Gregory accepted Unsworth’s request for a transfer & he joined Everton for £3 million pounds, matching the fee that Villa had paid to West Ham, a mere 4 weeks earlier.
Unsworth drew Gregory’s ire, with the Villa manager stating in the press “we all know who wears the trousers in the house” and that Unsworth had arrived home to “dinners in the bin”.
Unsworth remained at Everton, where he had two stints, playing almost 300 games, earning a testimonial in 2002.
To rub further salt in the wounds, Unsworth recounts in an interview his best goal as a scissor kick scored against, you guessed it, Aston Villa. In addition to this, he also remembers it for his celebration running down the length of the Doug Ellis stand. Suffice to say, he will not be fondly remembered in Villa Park folklore.
“I hit a scissors kick and ran off to celebrate holding the badge on my shirt towards all the Villa fans. I just kept running.
I thought it was the best goal I’ve scored for Everton and I’d been getting a bit of stick from the Villa boo boys and when I scored I just turned and run down the pitch holding the Everton badge on my shirt.”