Aston Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland admits idolising Manchester United legend Eric Cantona.

Ireland came through the system at Manchester City, but confesses being a boyhood United fan.

"I was a United fan when I was growing up as it was in my family," Ireland told the Birmingham Mail. "It was time they were at their best with players like Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and David Beckham.

"Seven's always been my number. As a kid I was a big fan of Cantona and that's what he wore so I wanted it too.

"As it became available at Villa, I wanted to take it.

"It was easy to follow a team who kept winning and playing attractive football."