Villa v Arsenal: Albrighton - Pires had huge impact on me
Man of the moment Marc Albrighton looked ahead to next Monday's clash with Arsenal and immediately recalled the enormous impact Robert Pires had on him personally during his short Villa spell.
Gunners legend Pires arrived in B6 to a blaze of publicity in November 2010 after signing on a short-term deal.
The mercurial midfielder only made twelve appearances - including four starts - and scored just the one goal, in an FA Cup mauling of Blackburn.
But Albrighton insists that Pires had a massive influence in the dressing room.
This is the man, remember, who won the World Cup with France, two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and two Charity Shields with Arsenal.
He was awarded the PFA Player of the Year award in 2002 and was in the top-flight Team of the Year three seasons in a row.
Pires, player of the month Albrighton says, was a big personality to have around the place and was incredibly quick to dish out advice.
Albrighton, who refers to the 40-year-old by the friendly moniker Bobby, is a winger, the position where Pires carved out a remarkable reputation.
And Pires realised this affinity, singling out Albrighton for special time after training each day to give him tips and hints.
"I learnt a lot from Bobby. He was a great professional to be around," said Albrighton.
"The way he conducted himself on and off the pitch was fantastic.
"He was always giving advice to the younger lads like me. It was great to get that kind of advice from a legend like him, looking at what he's achieved in the game.
"He used to offer his words of wisdom to me. He used to say 'don't panic on the ball'.
"He taught me a lot about composure on the ball. I feel I have taken that on into my game. I owe that to Bobby.
"He chatted to me all the time. He was an open, bubbly guy and great to have around the place. He was fantastic with me.
"He definitely helped my education in football."
Albrighton certainly appreciated that time one-on-one with the French ace.
And he has a constant reminder of the influence of Pires, with a signed shirt taking pride of place above the midfielder's pool table at his home.
Even that includes words of advice!
"I was lucky enough to be given a signed shirt from Bobby before he left - one that he had worn in his time at Villa," added Albrighton.
"That's up on my wall now. I am grateful of that. It's a great feeling going downstairs in the morning and seeing that shirt and remembering what he taught me.
"He signed it 'Best wishes. Keep up the good work.' That meant a lot. And I intend to!"
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