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Former VIllains stars set to return for terminally ill goalkeeper’s final wish

A number of former Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion stars have agreed to break their retirement in a benefit match for Derek Dudley, according to the Express and Star.

Dudley spent just four years at Villa during the 1980s but was diagnosed terminally ill at the age of 47.

A number of Villa’s 1982 European Cup winning side – including Gordan Cowans, Nigel Spink, Pat Heard, Tony Morley and Peter Withe – will line-up alongside Richard Sneekes and Bob Taylor in the Midlands Legends team taking on Romulus Veterans on Sunday November 19th.

The team, mixed with a number of former Villa and West Brom stars, will also be attended by Julian Loachim, Darren Byfield, Lee Hendrie and Tony Daley.

On of Dudley’s friends said. “Derek’s in a bad way. He’s terminally ill because his liver has stopped working and he is currently having his stomach drained of excess fluid.

“We went to the same school together, Perry Common, and I was a few years above him.

“I was a right-back at Kidderminster Harriers and he was a goalkeeper and we sat next to each other in the changing rooms for the charity games.

“Over the past few years he’s played for the former players’ sides, playing more than 150 times. We’ve worked out that he’s probably helped raise £500,000 for different charities over the years.

“He was the first name on the team sheet – Mr Reliable we used to call him because he’d always play. That’s the type of bloke he is, he always goes out of his way to help others.”

Derek currently lives in Rugeley with his wife, Helen, and his two children Daniel, 13, and Elizabeth, 11. The former shot-stopper admits that his bucket list includes having a nice meal with his children and getting the ‘lads’ together for one last game.

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