- Tuesday, 27 March 2012
- Written by Modou Lamin Beyai
The Portland Timbers of Gambian defender Mamadou “Futty” Danso announced today that they will play host to the English Premier League’s Aston Villa Football Club in an international friendly on Tuesday, July 24, at the JELD-WEN Field.
“Playing clubs the caliber of Aston Villa is extremely beneficial in terms of increasing the exposure for the Timbers and the incredible atmosphere generated by the Timbers Army and our fans at JELD-WEN Field,” said Gavin Wilkinson, Timbers general manager. “Playing top clubs from around the world only makes this team stronger and, with a deep squad, provides opportunities for players to gain valuable experience.”
“The competition will be good and the facilities top-class, so this will be great preparation when the time comes for the season ahead,” said Villa manager Alex McLeish. “We’re not taking our eyes off the immediate challenge by any means and our focus is very much on this weekend’s game against Chelsea at Villa Park.”
“But it’s heartening to see a glimpse of the new dawn on the horizon and this tour will be one that everybody at the club can look forward to.”
Villa CEO Paul Faulkner added: “There will be real value in the tour for Alex and the players on the pitch and also off the pitch for the club as a whole with the commercial and marketing side as well as the community aspect very much on our agenda, as they were last summer in Hong Kong.”
“That was an exciting and hugely positive experience for the club and I’m sure we will work hard as a club to ensure we can see further development in a country in which the game has increasingly taken root. We worked closely with our shirt partner, Genting, in Hong Kong and their presence in the US will make this another mutually beneficial exercise, with the promotional possibilities to further enhance the profile of the club particularly strong.”
“Commercially, we are always looking to grow the club while remaining true to the values we espouse as Villa people. I see this as a wonderful opportunity and I thank the staff of the teams we will play for the courtesy and welcome they have already shown us in helping us to put these games together.”
Aston Villa, founded in 1874, is one of the more historic and successful clubs in English football. A founding member of the original Football League in 1888 and of the Premier League in 1992, Aston Villa is the fifth-most decorated club in England, having won 19 major domestic honors in its history.
The club boasts seven first-division championships, seven FA Cup titles and three European trophies, including winning the European Cup, now called the UEFA Champions League, in 1981-82. Based in the city of Birmingham, Aston Villa has finished in the top half of the Premier League in each of the last four seasons, including three top-six finishes. Aston Villa, a 10-time participant in the UEFA Champions League, recently made three straight UEFA Europa League appearances from 2008-11.
Led by manager Alex McLeish, a former Scottish international, Aston Villa’s roster features one of the Premier League’s top goal-scorers over the past three seasons in striker Darren Bent, World Cup veteran goalkeeper Shay Given, standout defender Richard Dunne, experienced international and club captain Stiliyan Petrov, French winger Charles N’Zogbia and long-time star striker Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Aston Villa defenders Alan Hutton and Carlos Cuellar are former teammates of Timbers forward Kris Boyd at Scotland’s Rangers FC. All three players helped Rangers win the Scottish Cup, the Scottish League Cup and reach the finals of the UEFA Cup (now called the Europa League) during the 2007-08 season. Additionally, McLeish managed Boyd for a half season at Rangers during the 2005-06 campaign as well as in 2007 as the manager of the Scotland National Team.
Futty Danso’s Timbers have played host to a number of English clubs and EPL sides in the club’s recent history, including Sunderland (2005), Burnley (2009) and Manchester City (2010). Last season, the club faced West Bromwich Albion in a friendly at a sold out JELD-WEN Field.