Aston Villa defender Luke Young has challenged his team-mates to repay the club’s supporters next season after saluting the Villa Park faithful.
Young became a fans’ favourite during his first year at Villa and the right-back welcomed the backing he received from the claret and blue brigade.
The England international recognises that affording to follow football in the current financial climate is becoming increasingly difficult for supporters.
“As a player, you always drive past the fans in the pub with their claret and blue shirts on and it reiterates in your mind what it means to them and how much money they’ve spent to go to a game,” said Young.
“Not only do you go out and perform for yourself, your family, your manager and chairman, you do it for all those fans too.
“I appreciate and understand that.
“If you win, they have a smile on their face for the entire week until the next match rolls around.
“Football is religion. It’s their identity. Who they are is who they support,” he added.
“If I wasn’t playing, I’d be exactly the same. Credit to our fans, they come week in and week out and going to a game is almost a religious experience.”
Young grew up in an environment where his father’s friends would travel all around the country to watch his first team, Tottenham Hotspur.
“My dad’s mates are all Spurs fans and when I was a youngster at the club I used to pop down the pub to see them,” he added.
“They went home and away with their club and they used to have competitions to see who had travelled to more games, who had done more miles and who had missed the last game, that sort of thing.
“They worked very hard to be able to see their team at the weekend. I have seen first-hand what it means to fans out there. The game is so important to supporters.
“Our fans work all week and their release and their main thought throughout the week is football. They talk about it 24/7.”
Meanwhile, despite reports linking Villa with Fulham’s Brede Hangeland, Martin O’Neill is believed to be pursuing other defensive targets.
However, the Villa manager has not completely ruled out a move for the Norwegian captain as the search to replace Martin Laursen continues.