Former Aston Villa manager and trailblazer Jozef Venglos has passed away aged 84.

Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy

Former Aston Villa boss and top-flight trailblazer Jozef Venglos has passed away at the age of 84.

Whilst his time in and around B6 is often heralded as a disaster, his arrival into Birmingham and Aston more specifically heralded a new dawn for English Football – as Dr. Venglos became the first foreign manager to manage in the top flight.

Arsene Wenger is often credited with the shifting mindset of English Football, away from cigarettes and beer and a poor diet, and into a healthier lifestyle to improve them as athletes – but it was Venglos who had attempted to do the same over half a decade before him.

Obsessed with the power of warm-ups and warm-downs, and a healthier lifetyle, his research into nutrition and more was something that he tried to transplant onto the Aston Villa side he would manage for a singular year.

He would resign after just a year, leaving the club in as much a shroud of mystery as he arrived in.

Dr. Venglos arrived perhaps at the right club, but as the wrong time. English football was not ready for an outsider just yet, and Aston Villa had the chance to only recruit one player to suit Venglos’ style of football – Ivo Stas – who would never play a game after career-ending achilles injuries.

Jozef also had an incredibly hard act to follow. Aston Villa had just finished second in the league under Graham Taylor and there wasn’t much need for a revolutionised squad, nor manager as the club was edging towards the heights of the eighties. It was something that Doug Ellis evidently overlooked.

He should not be without blame – but the manager was a visionary in his own right – despite abandoning his passing style of football on numerous occasions in an attempt to fix weaknesses in the way his side were playing.

In another timeline, Venglos would have been the man to change English football for the better, to modernise it and evolve it in the way that Wenger did. Who knows, Aston Villa could have been the invincibles side. It was just the wrong time for Dr. Jozef Venglos to have arrived.

Dr. Venglos earned the UEFA Diamond Order of Merit and FIFA’s highest Order of Merit, whilst also lecturing on football in over 120 countries. The coach was voted the greatest Slovak coach of the 20th century, and will be remembered fondly.

Rest well, Dr. Joe.

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