Aston Villa legend Stiliyan Petrov and now-Everton star Gareth Barry have both spoken in glowing terms of their former midfield partnership with the Claret and Blues.
Having joined Barry at Villa in August 2006 to reunite with ex-Celtic boss Martin O’Neill, Petrov would eventually establish himself as an integral part of the club’s line-up alongside the England international, helping seal three straight sixth-place Premier League finishes from 2006 to 2008.
The Bulgarian would go on to succeed his teammate as captain following his £12 million move to Manchester City in June 2009, and believes that summer marked the departure of “the best modern-day Villa player.”
“When you play with someone in the middle of the park, it's all about understanding,” Petrov told the club’s official website.
“What I managed to strike up with Gareth was a great partnership because of this.
“When you play alongside someone you need to completely trust him. In the middle of the park, you need someone who completely understands you and your game. Gareth and I had that.
“Any time I went to help a wide player or a full-back, for example, I knew Gareth would be right behind me to cover me.
“In my opinion, he is the best modern-day Villa player.”
Barry was similarly enthusiastic about Petrov’s talent, while also hailing the 35-year-old’s exemplary character and professionalism.
“You speak to anyone in the game and it doesn't matter if you've met him once or a hundred times, people say great things about Stan,” he said.
“He is one of the most popular men in football, no doubt about it!
“On the pitch, he was a fantastic professional.
“Playing with him was just brilliant, I really enjoyed it and I think we struck up a good partnership with Villa.
“In football and also in life, he is the perfect role model.”
Villa could certainly due with a dynamic duo like Petrov and Barry in their current line-up, given their struggles under manager Paul Lambert, but one gets the impression it will be a long time before the claret and blue faithful see another player worthy of living up to the pair’s reputation.