By Paul Brown
Gary Gardner has spoken of the "amazing honour" at being able to train and play alongside Robbie Keane.
Keane returns to Los Angeles and his parent club Galaxy after the Wigan game following a tremendous two-month loan spell in claret and blue for Villa.
Gardner says the influence of Keane on the squad cannot be underestimated - particularly with the younger generation looking to make their way in the profession.
The 19-year-old insists he is sad to see Keane leave but will look back at the positives of his temporary stay.
Gardner stresses he has learnt a great deal about being a top player on and off the pitch, including the total focus you need to succeed.
He said: "It's been an amazing honour to work with Robbie these past few months.
"He's a tremendous footballer. I have watched him all my life and admired him from afar and having played with him and trained with him he's not disappointed up close either.
"He is world-class. It's a big disappointment to see Robbie going but you have to take the positives from every situation.
"I have learnt a lot from being around him. That's as a footballer and as a person.
"He's a top quality player and we would have loved him to stay but he has commitments at LA Galaxy. I wish him all the best.
"Off the pitch, he's a true professional. He is so focused and has the blinkers on in training because he's determined to succeed all the time.
"Robbie, like David Beckham, is a role model to me. He's a top guy and he's been in regular conversation with me at the training ground.
"Even on his first day he found time to come up to me for a chat about things. That shows what a guy he is.
"I wish him all the best. It's sad to see him go but he's contributed massively.
"He's been immense. He's been here less than two months and he's scored three goals for us.
"He has had a massive influence on our team. I'm sure all the lads have learnt from him."
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