Bouma: O'Neill threat saved my Villa career

Wilfred Bouma has revealed how Martin O'Neill threatened to dump him at Aston Villa.

He confessed: "When Martin O'Neill threatened to dump me, that's when it really hit me that I was failing. I remember saying to myself 'Do I play or do I go?'

"I decided to play and I started to work hard in training."

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And that, as far as he was concerned, was the turning point after months of misery following his move from PSV Eindhoven two summers ago. Bouma added: "I really underestimated what the Premier League was about. Arriving in England was like landing in another world.

"I thought I'd be able to handle it without any bother but, in practice, it was a very different experience.

"My family stayed in Holland so I was in my hotel room alone and was so bored.

"I was living in Birmingham but I couldn't get away from the place fast enough.

"If I had a day off then I was on the plane, even for an afternoon. When I saw my weekly schedule I was only looking for a gap that would give me the opportunity to get away. After training it was a quick shower and then a rush to get to the airport.

"During that period I didn't have any contact at all with my team-mates."

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