Aston Villa: Inside the Ghana village with thousands of die-hard fans

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Aston Villa, one of the oldest clubs in English football, have enjoyed their fair share of success throughout their history.

The West Midlands outfit have won seven league titles, the same number of FA Cups, five League Cups and even the European Cup.

However, it’s been quite some time since their long-suffering fans saw their team lift a trophy - unless you count the Intertoto Cup in 2001.

Villa last won the league back in 1981 and have struggled in recent years. They were relegated from the Premier League for the first time in 2016 before spending three seasons in the Championship.

They avoided relegation back to the second tier by the skin of their teeth last term but Dean Smith’s side are currently enjoying a good campaign. They sit ninth in the table at the time of writing, having picked up 39 points from their opening 24 league fixtures.

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Win, lose or draw, though, they will always have the support of a tiny village in Ghana called Juaben.

Yes, you read that right.

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Per the Daily Mail, the locals of the small town in the Ashanti Region of the African country, located over 5,000 miles away from Villa Park, are die-hard Aston Villa fans.

Every match day, the residents will wake up at 5am, don their claret and blue attire and march through the streets, dancing and singing songs as they go, while declaring their love for the Villains.

Why Aston Villa?

So, the big question is: why Aston Villa?

The man responsible is 21-year-old Owusu Boakye Amando, founder of the Ghana Lions.

He estimates there are now over 1,000 supporters in his village after convincing fans of the big teams to switch allegiance to the mighty Villa.

“Every Sunday morning it is our routine,” Owusu told the Daily Mail. “We have to be fit and more active so that we can chant, so we do exercises and after that, we will chant and chant and go on for more than three hours.

“When we come back we start the chants using the names of the footballers who play for Aston Villa, and we chant against the opponents we come to play against. We do some chants and we all watch them play together.

“Most people were Chelsea fans, Man United fans, Barcelona fans. They are all joining us as Aston Villa fans now! Because what we are doing is amazing.”

What an incredible story.

Why does Owusu love Aston Villa?

But what made Owusu first fall in love with Aston Villa?

“My love for Aston Villa started when we were kids,” he added. “My grandfather used to talk about lots of players, but there was a certain player he used to talk about most. He always talked about ‘God, God, God’.

“So one day, I asked him, ‘Grandpa, who is this God you always talk about?’ He said ‘there is only one God, but there is also a God in football and his name is Paul McGrath’.”

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For younger readers, McGrath was a top defender who joined Villa from Manchester United in 1989.

The Republic of Ireland international spent seven years at Villa and even won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award at the end of the Premier League’s inaugural season.

Trip to Villa Park is the dream

Current Villa stars including Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings have previously donated money in a bid to help the villagers book a dream trip to Villa Park, but it hasn’t proved possible yet.

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“It is our dream to go and see Villa Park,” Owusu said. “We want to see a game. All of my friends at the Ghana Lions say that.

“When we finally get a chance to go to Villa Park, we are not going to sleep in any hotel, we are going to sleep in the Holte End because that is our home, that will be our room!”

The Mail’s report say the interview ended with Owusu declaring “Aston Villa is everything to us” before singing a three-minute chant involving every Villa player from goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to ‘Super’ John McGinn.

Absolutely brilliant.

To help the Ghana Lions fund a football pitch, you can donate or purchase one of their official shirts.

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