On leaving school in 1969, Brian signed as an apprentice for Aston Villa who had just been relegated to the Third Division for the first and only time in their history. He made his senior debut on 30 October 1971, in a 4 – 1 win over Blackburn Rovers at Villa Park. In that same season, he also helped Villa win the FA Youth Cup.
He was part of Villa’s League Cup winning teams of 1975 and 1977 and scored two goals in the second replay victory over Everton in the 1977 final. Brian helped the club climb from the Third to First Division in the early part of the decade, scoring 20 league goals in the 1974 – 1975 season when they were runners-up and clinched promotion to the First Division. His starring roles earned him his first (and only) cap for the full England team in a substitute appearance against Wales at Wembley in May 1975.
By the 1979 – 1980 season, Brian was a regular in the Villa side, but one year later, just before Villa’s victorious 1980 – 1981 season, his career ended prematurely because of a knee injury, after making 302 appearances for his one and only club, scoring 82 goals in all competitions and having a clean disciplinary record to boot.
Although his playing career was over, Brian remained on the Aston Villa payroll as youth team coach. When manager Tony Barton was sacked in the summer of 1984, Little’s contract was also terminated and he became first-team coach of Wolverhampton Wanderers, before embarking on a hugely successful managerial career.
Brian Little will be known as a flamboyant forward who formed a particularly prolific partnership with John Deehan and Andy Gray. He is regarded as an all-time great at Villa Park, and in 2007 he was named as one of the 12 founder members of the Aston Villa Hall of Fame.