AN: LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND, May 5, 1990. Aston Villa striker Teddy Sheringham shot his new team to the championship - and a place in European competition next year - as a thrilling title race came to its climax.
Villa pipped Liverpool to the title by two points, wrapping up their decisive win on Merseyside at Everton, across the river from their championship rival's home stadium. Their title means Villa will play in the UEFA Cup next year as the ban on English clubs in European competitions expires.
The 24-year-old forward, who finished the campaign with 13 goals, including 6 for Millwall, was in a daze after the final whistle. He said: "It's unbelievable. To win the title on the last day is a schoolboy's dream come true. The gaffer showed a lot of faith in bringing me here, and told me I was here to score goals. I'm glad I could come in an help... although I haven't played enough games to get a championship medal, I'm delighted and can't wait for next season to start."
It was Sheringham, a £1.6m signing from Millwall, who netted the goal that brought the title back to Villa Park, completing their transformation from the side relegated to Division 2 just two seasons ago. Villa finished bottom of the league in 1987, finishing second the following year and getting promoted. They survived last season - just - a point ahead of relegated Middlesbrough.
This year, under manager Graham Taylor, they have upset teams with their style which has seen them punching way above their weight with few real stars in the team but an attitude and game plan that has made them a handful for anyone.
Sheringham played just 10 games for Villa, but contributed seven goals including a brace against his old club, relegated Millwall. His form gives him an outside chance of making the England squad going to Italy along side teammates PFA Player of the Year David Platt and winger Tony Daley.
His debut was solid if not spectacular. Villa won 1-0 at Derby on March 17 with Sheringham threatening without challenging Peter Shilton in the County goal. His first goal in claret and blue came three days later in a win at QPR. Defying the boos at Selhurst Park, Sheringham poked home a late equalizer at Crystal Palace to continue an unbeaten run that would last until the end of the season.
Sheringham's first game at Villa Park against Manchester City saw Sheringham off to a dream start in front of the home fans, scoring in the first two minutes from a Tony Daley cross. The game ended 2-2 after City fought back from 2-0 down. Another trip to London ended with another another win at Arsenal in a 1-0 win, the winner coming from full-back Chris Price. Sheringham picked up a slight knock in mid-week training and missed the next game against Chelsea, but Villa managed a 1-0 at Villa Park thanks to a Gordon Cowans goal.
The title was probably won at Old Trafford on April 17 when Manchester United took a 2-0 lead over Villa through Mark Robins, only for Sheringham to score one and provide one for former United star Paul McGrath to take a deserved point in a 2-2 draw. The next day, Liverpool were beaten by Arsenal in a narrow 2-1 defeat - only their third loss in the league since November 29th.
The Reds scored 13 goals and conceded only three in their last four games, leaving them with a total of 78pts. Villa beat Millwall 3-0 and tied with Norwich 3-3, giving them a total of 77 going into their last game at Everton. A tie would not have been enough to finish in first place, given Dalglish's team's vastly superior goal difference.
The game was a cracker with Villa's fans sensing the fairytale end to a season where they had only dared to hope for survival. Villa went ahead through Sheringham before Cowans curled in a beautiful free-kick past Neville Southall. Everton made Villa nervous as they pulled one back through Mike Newell coupled with the news coming from Highfield Road of Liverpool's 6-1 demolition of Coventry City. But The Villans hung on and fans spilled on to the pitch at the final whistle as they celebrated the unlikeliest of titles and their second championship win in nine years.
Former teammate at Millwall Tony Cascarino had mixed emotions as he endured relegation again with the club, but wished his old striking-partner well. "We certainly missed Teddy when he moved to Villa," said Cascarino. "But it would be hard to resist a move to such a massive club. If Teddy had stayed, maybe we would have stayed up, but to be fair the damage was done before he was sold. I wish I could have done more for Millwall this season, but congratulate Teddy on winning the title."