Villa lost the services of a true professional when Martin Laursen was forced to admit defeat in his battle against injury in April 2009.
Throughout five seasons at Villa Park, the Danish international had been dogged by knee problems which restricted him to a dozen games in his debut season and just one in his second.
By the end of his third season, in fact, he hadn’t managed 30 appearances – but then we discovered just why Villa had paid Italian giants AC Milan £3m for him.
The 2007/08 campaign was an unqualified success for Laursen, who was not only an ever-present in the Premier League but also weighed in with half-a-dozen goals.
His commanding performances and scoring feats earned him the Supporters’ Player of the Year award – and it got even better.
Appointed captain at the start of the 2008/09 campaign, he was a colossus at the heart of the defence as Villa broke into the top four and made progress in the UEFA Cup.
He continued scoring, too, including the crucial early opening goal against Ajax in a UEFA Cup group game at Villa Park, while he was also named Danish Footballer of the Year.
But yet another knee injury at West Ham just before Christmas proved to the beginning of the end.
Laursen returned for the home game against West Bromwich Albion three weeks later, but it proved to be his last before his premature retirement.