Villa fans are nothing if not devoted to their beloved club and its stars, with none more so revered than former defender Paul McGrath, better known to the faithful as 'God'.

Not many players could attract more than 150 people to queue outside a Birmingham bookstore on a damp, grey October day.

First in line outside Waterstone's, in the High Street, were Frances Wray and her husband Terry, who had travelled from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, and waited for more than two-and-a-half hours.

Mrs Wray, aged 68, said: "What's so special about Paul McGrath? We just love him, he's an absolute legend."

As she had her copy of McGrath's autobiography signed, Mr Wray added: "He's simply the best player the club's ever had. Why else do you think we call him God."

As McGrath posed for photos and signed old programmes, annuals and photos, hordes of shoppers captured their hero's return on their camera phones.

Fans in the Bullring paused to remember the club's success in the early 1990s after McGrath had joined Villa from Manchester United. Dave Lane, aged 65, remembered how he often ended up in the players' lounge at Villa Park, enjoying a drink with McGrath.

The retired brewery boss, who lives in Stratford-upon-Avon, said: "I was always in there, and so we go way back, but he's a great guy, and he was the best on the field. He never let Villa down on the pitch."

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