Gordon Cowans

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Gordon Cowans
Gordon Cowans (1982).jpg
Gordon Cowans (1982)
Personal information
Full name Gordon Sidney Cowans
Date of birth (1958-10-27) 27 October 1958 (age 60)
Place of birth West Cornforth, County Durham, England
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Playing position Midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1976–1985 Aston Villa 286 (42)
1985–1988 A.S. Bari 94 (3)
1988–1991 Aston Villa 117 (7)
1991–1993 Blackburn Rovers 50 (2)
1993–1994 Aston Villa 11 (0)
1994 Derby County 36 (0)
1994–1995 Wolverhampton Wanderers 37 (0)
1995–1996 Sheffield United 21 (0)
1996–1997 Bradford City 25 (0)
1997 Stockport County 7 (0)
1997 Burnley 6 (0)
Total 690 (54)
National team
1979–1980 England U21 5 (0)
1980–1990 England B 2 (0)
1983–1990 England 10 (2)
Teams managed
1997–1998 Burnley (Reserves Team Coach)
1998–2016 Aston Villa (First Team & Academy Coach)
2014 Aston Villa (assistant manager)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Gordon Sidney Cowans (born 27 October 1958 in West Cornforth, County Durham) is an English retired football player and coach.

Cowans started his career at Aston Villa as an apprentice in 1974, and signed as a professional in 1976. During his time at Aston Villa, he won the League Cup, the League Championship, the European Cup and the European Super Cup.

Cowans left Aston Villa for the first time in 1985, signing for Bari. He then returned to Aston Villa in 1988 and left again in 1991 moving to Blackburn Rovers. When he left Blackburn he went back to Aston Villa, before moving to Derby County, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sheffield United, Bradford City, Stockport County and finally Burnley.

He was also capped 10 times by England at international level scoring two goals, against Scotland and Egypt. Cowans is consistently rated by Villa fans as one of their 3 best ever players. Cowans returned once again to Aston Villa in a coaching role, first coaching in their youth academy before becoming first team coach and later reserve team manager.

Playing career[edit]

Aston Villa first spell[edit]

Although born in County Durham, Cowans came to Villa as an apprentice in 1974 at 15, and was part of the talented youth team that won the FA Youth Cup, an early indication of his talent. He soon made his first team debut, on 7 February 1976 as a substitute aged 17 whilst still an apprentice. At this time, he became a member of the England youth team. Progress continued and he was soon a regular in the Villa first team during the season Villa won the League Cup against Everton, and in 1979 he was voted PFA Young Player of the Year. In the 1980–81 season, Cowans won the league with Villa, and during the following season, the European Cup, on 26 May 1982. Cowans then broke his leg during a pre-season friendly in Spain and missed the whole 1983–84 season; upon regaining full fitness he was sold to Bari in 1985 for a fee of £250,000.[1]

In his first spell at Villa he played 286 games scoring 42 goals. He also won the PFA young player of the year award, a league championship, a European Cup and a European Super Cup.

A.S. Bari[edit]

Over the course of three seasons in Italy, Cowans made 94 appearances for Bari, scoring three goals.

Aston Villa second spell[edit]

During Cowans' transfer to Bari, Villa had retained the option of first refusal to buy him back should Bari decide to sell him; in 1988, Graham Taylor took up this option – much to the pleasure of Villa supporters – and Villa went on to finish as runners-up in the league during the 1989/90 season, before Taylor left the club to manage England.

During his second spell at Aston Villa, Cowans made 117 appearances, scoring seven times.

Blackburn Rovers[edit]

Ron Atkinson sold Cowans on 28 November 1991 for £200,000 to Blackburn Rovers. He helped them gain promotion to the new FA Premier League as Second Division play-off winners at Wembley. In his time at Ewood Park he played 50 times, scoring twice.

Aston Villa third spell[edit]

He then signed on a free transfer back to Aston Villa on 5 July 1993. By the time he had left Villa for the last time he had played a total of 453 games scoring 49 goals.

Derby County[edit]

Cowans was transferred to Derby County on 3 February 1994 for £200,000. He played a total of 36 times scoring one goal.


Cowans was transferred to Wolves on 19 December 1994 for £20,000. He made his debut on 26 December 1994 in a 4–1 defeat at Oldham Athletic aged 36. He went on to make 37 appearances for Wolves six of which were as a substitute.[2]

Sheffield United[edit]

Cowans was one of the first signings that new Sheffield United boss Howard Kendall made after replacing Dave Bassett in late 1995. Cowans was a key part of the side as it rose clear from the relegation zone, and of the passing style that Kendall introduced to the club.[3] He played in the FA Cup 3rd round replay win over Arsenal that set up a 4th round tie with his former team Aston Villa. Cowans played 21 times for Sheffield United, and was surprisingly not given an extended deal by Kendall, instead leaving the club in summer 1996.

Bradford City[edit]

Cowans was signed by Chris Kamara in 1996 for Bradford City following their promotion to Division One. He made a total of 25 league appearances (one as substitute) and two League Cup games, without scoring, before being given a free transfer to Stockport County in March 1997.

Stockport County[edit]

In his short time with Stockport Cowans made seven appearances, scoring no goals.


Cowans played six times for Burnley, scoring no goals.

Coaching career[edit]

Cowans started his coaching career at Burnley before moving back to Villa Park for a fourth time to become youth team coach, then going on to become first team coach during Gérard Houllier's reign. With the departure of Houllier, the Villa hierarchy let it be known that both Cowans and Kevin MacDonald would have futures at the club no matter who the new manager was.[4] In April 2014 Aston Villa suspended Ian Culverhouse, their assistant manager and Gary Karsa, the head of football operations pending an internal investigation. Cowans and veteran goalkeeper Shay Given were temporarily promoted in their place.[5]

Playing honours[edit]

Aston Villa England

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Gordon Cowans – Aston Villa". Sporting heroes.
  2. ^ "Gordon Cowans – Wolves". Sporting heroes.
  3. ^ "Kendall relights the fire". The Independent. Ian Ridley. 28 January 1996. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  4. ^ Nixon, Alan. Sparky Wants Randy Call: Hughes Keen On Villa Despite Snub The People, 12 June 2011
  5. ^ "Aston Villa suspend Lambert lieutenants to clear 'poisonous atmosphere'". The Guardian. 15 April 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2014.