In years to come, it'll be a useful pub question. Who held the fort for Aston Villa as Martin O'Neill watched his players on his first full day as the new manager?

One clue - as a former goalkeeper, he was delighted that the team didn't concede anything in the goalless draw in Germany. It's one of the many enduring memories for Eric Steele, now that his five-year stint as Villa's goalkeeping coach has ended.

Martin O'Neill, as is his right, has decided to bring in the trusted Seamus McDonagh from Coventry. He worked productively with O'Neill at Leicester and Steele accepts that's how it works in professional football.

"I see it that I've not been sacked, but replaced. I'm really sorry to go, but my head's held high. Thomas Sorensen's playing as well as ever and the Academy kids are keeping goal to the necessary standards so I feel my legacy's good.

"Villa is at last ready to take off. Martin is very impressive at close quarters. His rapport with his players is outstanding, he listens to them, he wants to hear their opinions and if Stiliyan Petrov's a measure of the quality he plans to bring in, then Villa will prosper. He's top drawer."

Steele has worked in the United States - he visits his brother out there regularly - and he knows more about the work of Randy Lerner at the Cleveland Browns than most of us who still can't get near to the guy.

"Since he took over at Villa, I've sat listening to him, along with the rest of the coaching staff and he's exactly what the club needs," said Steele.

"He's very fan-orientated, he's got some great ideas and the quality of staff he's bringing on board here will open so many doors for Villa, at home and abroad."

A goalkeeping coach since 1988, Steele will now concentrate on running his own coaching clinics ( that include courses at Warwick

University and helping Ray Clemence with the England development squads from Under-15s upwards.

"Too many in football just see the keeper as someone stuck between the posts," he said. "They should see how goalies can build constructively into team play. Graham Taylor encouraged me in that way at Villa and we helped Peter Crouch improve his work on the ground with the help of Peter Schmeichel. Do you remember how he could start off a move, by throwing the ball as far as ten yards into the opposition half?

"The keeper can be vital in counter-attacks and the best sides, who play from the back, understand that. I want to build up that awareness with all the guys I'm working with."

Perhaps in a few years, Eric Steele might have something to do with a glut of top-class English goalkeepers that used to be taken for granted.

England's No 1, Paul Robinson needs to be pressurised for his place in the same way as Peter Shilton, Ray Clemence and Gordon Banks from previous generations.