Villa supporters were left with a lasting impression of Olof Mellberg.
The Swedish international arranged for every one of the 3,200 who made the trip to West Ham for his farewell match to be presented with a replica shirt as his parting gift.
It was the central defender’s way of thanking the fans for the backing they had given him throughout his time in claret and blue, although by then he had long since repaid the £5.6m Villa had paid Racing Santander for him.
Arriving from Spain the summer of 2001, Mellberg made an outstanding debut in an opening day goalless draw at Tottenham and remained a dominant figure at the heart of Villa’s defence for the next seven seasons, rarely making a mistake as he produced commanding displays as a matter of course.
Even after he had signed a pre-contract agreement to join Italian giants Juventus, he continued to perform consistently during the remaining months of his contract.
He was, almost incredibly, dropped for the opening game of the 2003/04 season at Portsmouth, but new manager David O’Leary quickly realised the error of his ways, reinstating Mellberg and subsequently appointing him captain.
It was a smart move, Villa going on to finish sixth.
Apart from being able to also operate effectively at right-back, a position he regularly occupied during his final season, Mellberg also weighed in with a few vital goals – and he became the first player to score a competitive goal at the Emirates Stadium when Villa drew 1-1 with Arsenal in the opening match of 2006/07.