Darius Vassell says he knows exactly what Gabby Agbonlahor is going through - living the dream for his boyhood club.
Vassell enjoyed a seven-year stint for his favourite team in claret and blue, after coming up through the academy ranks.
Agbonlahor has progressed in exactly the same manner and is now the crowd favourite as Vassell was back in the early 2000s.
Vassell is a big admirer of Agbonlahor and actually trained with the club's record goalscorer at Bodymoor Heath when he was on his way up to the senior set-up.
He said: "I am so impressed with Gabby. He reminds me of myself when I was younger.
"He has done great things - some he might not have expected to do himself.
"I really like Gabby. I like the way he plays - using his pace to scare the life out of defenders. That's what I used to do.
"He has pace, power, desire and determination for his club as a hometown lad. Every team needs that sort of player I think.
"Not many might know but I knew Gabby when I was at Villa.
"I was a senior and he was one of the better youth team players. I heard his name mentioned.
"He would come and join us in the training to get some experience.
"He was the same then as he is now. He had pace and he never shied away from his responsibilities.
"He was doing the same things at 15 as he is now but obviously he's improved and progressed dramatically.
"My hat goes off to him. He must be having the same feeling as I had of being really proud at wearing the shirt you love."
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