Andreas Weimann hailed former team-mate James Collins as a brutally honest footballer who treated the young Villa starlets as proper men.
Weimann says he loved the frankness of Collins, a defender who would tell you if you did well in a game or training and also chide you if you performed badly too.
Weimann believes this no-nonsense approach helped him grow up quickly.
He said: "I got on really well with James. He was a good guy to have around and he's been a really good defender in the Premier League for many years now. It won't be easy against him this weekend.
"He was great with me. As a young boy coming through the ranks, you have to prove yourself and show you have what it takes to be alongside the senior boys.
"James was the kind of guy who would be no-nonsense - if you did something bad, he'd tell you and if you did something good, he'd be the first to praise you. You need that feedback as a young player.
"He was a classic senior pro - honest with you, giving you advice, praising you but also telling you if you weren't doing what was expected.
"He treated you as a man. It was the same with Stan and Dunnie too.
"For the young boys, we had people like James to look up and to aspire to get to.
"That certainly helped me as a player and as a person.
"On the field, he's a proper defender. He's in there fighting for everything and he will throw his body at everything possible. He will give everything for the team.
"James and Dunnie were big parts of our success over those years of finishing sixth. They were really good when they were here.
"Hopefully we will get the better of James on Saturday. It will be tough, no question."
Snap up match tickets for our game with West Ham.