MARTIN Jol knows this weekend’s opponents better than most – having watched Aston Villa lift the European Cup in Rotterdam in 1982.
The Fulham manager was playing for Villa’s arch rivals West Brom at the time but went along to the final in his native Holland and watched from the stands.
It was a brave thing to do given his Baggies connection but Jol kept a low profile as he saw his old club Bayern Munich defeated 1-0 by the English side.
He said: “I went to the final against Bayern Munich in Rotterdam. I was at West Brom, so I kept a low profile. I was there and saw Aston Villa win the European Cup. It’s a big club, probably the number one club in Birmingham.
“I kept my head down with a cap on. They didn’t recognise me and I was a player then so maybe it was not that easy for them. I was at the back as well. I bought a ticket because Rotterdam was near my hometown. It was a good experience.”
Fast forward more than 30 years and Villa are a far-cry from their European conquering days in the 80s.
Paul Lambert’s team are fighting for their lives in the top-flight ahead of this weekend’s visit of Jol’s Fulham.
Fulham are still looking to extinguish any lingering relegation fears this season and the Whites boss says it will be a clash of youth and experience at Villa Park.
He added: “Maybe the philosophy has changed there and they want to play with young players. They will develop and be better and better. We’ve probably got the oldest squad in the Premier League and it’s still not easy. We’ve got experience.
“I always liked Aston Villa. It’s a tough league. If you stay up then you do well. Unfortunately with Fulham they look at us with different eyes. They probably think that we’re a top 10 club, so we have to be in the top 10.”
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