Ashley Westwood has thanked Paul Lambert for giving him his chance on the biggest football stage.
Westwood was plucked from League One Crewe and promoted almost instantaneously into the Barclays Premier League with Villa.
The 23-year-old signed on the final day of the August 2012 transfer window and quickly gained a reputation as a silky-smooth midfielder, with class and composure on the ball.
He said one of the major reasons for his growing confidence in the top-flight was Lambert's faith in his undoubted ability, which was previously untested at the level.
Westwood was thrown into the cut-and-thrust of the top-flight and excelled and now can count himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet.
He said: "From day one, the gaffer has just been unbelievable with me. I really can't thank him enough.
"He's made me feel totally at home and he's given me a chance in the Barclays Premier League.
"He has shown real faith in me and I will never forget that. That will stay with me for the rest of my career, having someone who believes in you that much.
"He said to me from the start 'if you're good enough, I will throw you in.' I took that on the moment I heard it.
"He's the same with all the players. He will give them a chance if he thinks they're ready for the task ahead.
"Training has been great with him and we've all been pushing to be involved throughout the past season.
"But from a personal perspective, he has been brilliant with me.
"The gaffer is the perfect role-model for me too. He's played in midfield and played the same game as me.
"He always has a quiet chat with me, advising me and telling me what he wants me to do. He's been a great help. He will pull me to one side from time to time and just show me one or two things.
"He won the Champions League so if he says something, you listen. You'd be daft not to.
"He's very positive in and around the place. He's always keeping spirits high and telling us to concentrate on each game as it comes along.
"Even after defeats he kept the place buzzing and the atmosphere at Bodymoor was first-class throughout the season. He's very respected in the dressing room."
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