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Tuesday, 27 February, 2001, 11:46 GMT
Three centuries of history
Euro 96 at Villa Park, Durch fans
Claret, blue and orange: Euro 96 at Villa Park
On Wednesday night Villa Park becomes the first English ground to stage international football in three centuries - BBC Sport Online charts its history.

Many Aston Villa fans are frustrated that their old ground has appeared to receive more recent investment than their team.

But supporters are also proud of the stadium, which has hosted 15 previous internationals and played host to top players like Franz Beckanbauer, Pele, Luis Figo and Ronaldo.

England have been strangers to the ground in recent years, and Spain were actually the last of Wednesday's opponents to play there, during the 1966 World Cup.

  England at Villa Park
1899: Eng 2-1 Scotland
1902: Eng 2-2 Scotland
1922: Eng 0-1 Scotland
1945: Eng 3-2 Scotland
1945: Eng 3-2 Scotland
1948: Eng 1-0 Wales
1951: Eng 2-0 N Ireland
1958: Eng 2-2 Wales
2001: Eng v Spain
Villa opened the stadium with a celebration of the league and FA Cup double in 1897.

It was only two years before the ground hosted its first international, a 2-1 win for England over Scotland.

In the following 46 years the Scots gained revenge, lost again and also drew with their Auld Enemy at Villa Park.

In 1948 the Welsh lost to England, as did Northern Ireland three years later.

England's last appearance at the ground before 2001 was a 2-2 draw with Wales in 1958.

Wednesday's game will be the first time that a side from beyond the British Isles will have taken on England there.

But since England stopped playing in Birmingham, there have been 10 different visitors to the ground from around the world.

German fan at Villa Park
Villa's Holte End turns German in 1966
In 1966 Spain, West Germany and Argentina played there as the ground shared qualifying Group B with Hillsborough in Sheffield.

The best remembered game was a bad-tempered goalless draw between Argentina and West Germany, which saw Argentine Josť Albrecht sent off.

But Spanish fans with long memories may want to forget their two appearances, which ended in 2-1 defeats and failure to qualify for the later stages.

After that there was a 29-year gap before international football returned, although Pele did appear at the ground for a club friendly in the early 1970s.

New England coach Sven Goran Eriksson may have won the Cup Winners Cup with Lazio at Villa Park in 1999, but his country Sweden had a less happy experience there four years previously.

In 1995, the rehearsal for the following year's Euro 96 tournament, the Umbro Cup, featured a repeat of the previous year's World Cup semi-final.

Edmundo's goal ensured a second win in two years for the world champions Brazil over the Swedes.

  World Cup 1966
Argentina 2-1 Spain
Argentina 0-0 W Germany
W Germany 2-1 Spain
  Umbro Cup 1995
Brazil 1-0 Sweden
  Euro 96
Holland 0-0 Scotland
Holland 2-0 Switzerland
Scotland 1-0 Switzerland
Czech Rep 1-0 Portugal
The dry run was declared a success for the authorities, despite teething troubles with the national anthems and a disappointing crowd.

The following year Villa Park played a peripheral part in England's successful Euro 96 campaign, hosting the other group games in the host country's Group A.

The Birmingham stadium was turned into a riot of orange and tartan for a goalless draw between Holland and Scotland.

The Dutch dominated but failing to score as a strong penalty appeal was turned down.

Two days later the Dutch were back, and did find the net against the Swiss, with Jordi Cruyff and Dennis Bergkamp scoring in a 2-0 win.

The hosts had drawn 1-1 with the Swiss and beaten the Scots 2-0 at Wembley, setting up a thrilling final night of group action.

English minds were definitely elsewhere as they overwhelmed the Dutch beneath the Twin Towers.

But Scottish fans have less fond memories, despite Ally McCoist's spectacular winner against the Swiss.

Karel Poborsky celebrates his goal
Poborsky made his name at Villa Park
At one stage it looked as though England, winning 4-0, were helping Scotland to an unlikely qualification.

But Patrick Kluivert's goal ruined the mood as thousands of transistor radios at Villa Park broadcast bad news from the capital.

While McCoist's goal was good, it was not the best scored at Villa Park during Euro 96.

That honour fell to Karel Porbosky of the Czech Republic during the quarter-finals.

His spectacular lob ended Portugal's hopes and helped earn him a move to English football the following season.

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