Andy began his playing career in August 1980 with Welling United in the Athenian League. After making 105 appearances for Welling, he was signed by Weymouth in March 1984 for £13,500. In 1988 he moved on to Norwich City, before joining Chelsea two years later.
His contribution to Norwich’s successful season saw Andy selected for the Republic of Ireland, making his debut against France in February 1989. He played in the next year’s World Cup, in Italy, where he played in all five of Ireland’s matches. They reached the quarter-finals, the country’s strongest ever campaign. He was captain of the Ireland squad for the 1994 World Cup.
After making a total of 138 appearances for Chelsea, scoring 12 goals but winning no trophies, he transferred to Aston Villa in July 1993 for £2.1million.
He finally won some silverware when Villa won the 1994 League Cup, beating Manchester United 3–1. He captained Villa when they reclaimed the trophy in 1996 with a 3–0 victory over Leeds United.
Following his retirement as a player he became a football pundit, most notably with ITV Sport, frequently appearing as co-commentator alongside Clive Tyldesley for the channel’s Champions League and FA Cup coverage. He co-hosted Talksport’s Weekend Sports Breakfast on Sundays with Mike Parry, and hosted the station’s drive-time show on Fridays. He also hosted the mid morning discussion on talkSPORT from 10am to 1pm from Monday to Friday.
He also hosts ITV1’s regional programme Soccer Night, alongside Peter Beagrie. He has also presented BBC Radio 5 Live and written columns for the Daily Mail. He has also been the commentator on several EA football games, including 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and most recently FIFA 12.
Townsend is a consultant for Harlequin Property, where he helps set up soccer schools at their Caribbean resorts.
He is patron of the George Coller Memorial Fund. He ran in the Great North Run in 2007, finishing in a time of 2 hours and 20 minutes.