Fans will help Villa 'do well' in Champions League - El Ghazi

Anwar El Ghazi battles for the ball with Manchester United's Scott McTominay
[Getty Images]

The passionate supporters will help Aston Villa "do well" in the Champions League next season, say the club's former winger Anwar El Ghazi.

Villa's outstanding season under boss Unai Emery saw them finish fourth in the table and will play in Europe's elite club competition for the first time in almost 40 years.

The Midlands side stunned German heavyweights Bayern Munich to win the European Cup in 1982 before shocking Barcelona to claim the Uefa Super Cup the following season.

El Ghazi played four seasons at Villa Park and was part of the squad promoted from the Championship in 2018-19.

Asked if he had thought back then that Villa would make it to the Champions League, El Ghazi told BBC Sport: "At that time, no.

"But I know the owners are really ambitious and were pushing not only to get into the Premier League but to be a top-six club too. They have achieved that, I am really proud of that because I am a Villa fan now.

"I am surprised by the manager who has done a great job and everyone loves him. If they play like they have done, it will be great, especially at Villa Park where the fans are the 12th man. They will do well.

“The fanbase is amazing, Villa Park is different and you really feel someone is behind you."

On Saturday, El Ghazi captained an XI against football organisation Nujum Sports in a charity match in London to raise funds for the children of Gaza.

The Dutchman had his contract cancelled at German side Mainz in November for a social media post about the Israel-Gaza conflict.

But things could have turned out differently had a move to Manchester United materialised last September.

“It was true we were in talks but there was nothing concrete," the 29-year-old said. "I was a free agent after leaving PSV and they were struggling to find wingers.

"They had issues with Antony and Mason Greenwood and I think they were exploring the market. It was close but unfortunately it didn’t go through."