David James has backed the ‘awesome’ Unai Emery to make Aston Villa’s Champions League dreams a reality.

Villa return to action at fellow high-flyers Tottenham on Sunday firmly in the top four mix following their best start in 25 years.

The Villans finished sixth and eighth in James’ two seasons at the club either side of the turn of the century and the shot-stopper believes the current crop are capable of scaling greater heights.

“At the moment, they are buzzing and you have to ask yourself ‘Champions League, why not?’,” he said.

“Unai Emery has been awesome. When you see what he is doing with Villa, it makes you wonder the impact he might have had at Arsenal if he had been given more time, given their spending power and the quality already there.

“The Villa fans and Umai Emery are the perfect match and if they were to get in the Champions League, it would be a tremendous statement.”

Key to the buzz around B6 has been making Villa Park a fortress, with the Spaniard inspiring a remarkable run of 13 consecutive Premier League home wins.

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“The home run is absolutely phenomenal,” James said.

“The one caveat to that is that, this season at least, the teams they’ve played at home haven’t been ones you’d expect them to lose to.

“They have maximised performances against teams you’d expect them to beat. When they start playing the bigger teams at home, that will go a long way to determining how they do with regard to the top four.”

The ex-Villa stopper has switched his attention from saving shots to saving footwear in recent years, as the co-creator of Football Rebooted alongside Utilita Energy.

The project, established in 2021, aims to prevent at least a million pairs of boots from ending up in landfill and save 136,000 tonnes of carbon – the same as taking 7,000 cars off the road for a year.

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James converted his own vehicle from diesel to rapeseed oil while a Portsmouth player and has continued to champion environmental causes since his retirement, even using boiling water rather than milk for his cereal.

“I can’t even think of a number to put on how many boots I had as a player,” he said.

“Had I been aware of upcoming environmental issues, the idea of donating them rather than throwing them away would have been a lot more useful.

“Creating football’s biggest environmental movement sounded a bit optimistic two years ago but it is going really well and the need will always be there. We are contributing to people staying in the game and continuing to do what they love.”

Football Rebooted is football’s biggest environmental movement, preventing one million pairs of football boots ending up on landfill. Visit https://footballrebooted.co.uk/ to find out more