Aston Villa debutant Zat Knight's beaming smile at the final whistle told its own story - not only had he fulfilled his dream of playing for his boyhood heroes, he had scored on his debut.

The fact that the goal came in a 2-0 win against Chelsea made the achievement even more special for a player who, just a few years ago, used to watch his hero Paul McGrath playing on the hallowed turf of Villa Park through a gap in the fencing.

Knight was brought in on his debut at centre-half by Martin O'Neill and immediately made his mark, winning over the Villa faithful in a matter of minutes.

Speaking after the game, Knight said that it was not so much his goal but the fact that he had helped Messrs Martin Laursen, Olof Mellberg and Wilfred Bouma keep a clean sheet that had really mattered.

Knight, aged 27, whose first day at Villa was marred when he was inadvertently caught up in a drugs raid at his mother's home involving his brother, said: "That was a dream start for me today, especially after what has been a tough week.

"To score and, to top it all, get a good win over Chelsea really was a dream start.

"I don't think I have come down off Cloud Nine yet, but really it was more about keeping a clean sheet than scoring.

"As soon as I realised that the ball was in the net, I just ran to my team-mates and tapped my badge a few times to tell myself I had just scored for Villa.

"Then I just ran to the manager to celebrate. He has been very supportive this week and I wanted to celebrate with him and show him my appreciation."

Knight was suitably impressed by his new team-mates and believes good signs are ahead, including the possibility of getting into Europe.

He said: "I thought the team did great - we all got stuck in, even though Chelsea were on top of us a lot of the time."

The 6ft 5in defender, whose #3.5 million move was only sealed on Thursday, continued: "It was good to get the goal quite early in the second half, but then we were under pressure.

"I enjoyed playing alongside Martin Laursen though, at times, we had to track back quite a lot and Didier Drogba was a bit of a handful.

"But this win has given us a major boost and while some of the team will be away on international duty this week, for those of us who are staying behind and training, this win will stay with us for a few days."

Knight, who was born in Solihull but grew up in Aston, added: "I was happy to see Martin Laursen get man of the match. He had a terrific game and I take my hat off to him.

"I really don't mind who I play with, I am just happy to play when I can.

"There is all this talk about us trying to get into Europe and we need results like this if we are to achieve that."

His sentiments were echoed by manager O'Neill: "We played strongly. We played very well and we had to because they are a really good side," he said.

"This is not to sound patronising, but the way Chelsea play is the standard we have to achieve week in week out. Chelsea are a brilliant side.

"Our commitment was second to none, we had a little bit of luck to get the second goal. We played terrifically and we had to."