Aston Villa has informed AVTV that he told Stylian Petrov that he has been an example to everyone at the club, through his performances over pre-season.
Petrov is currently trying to earn a permanent contract at Villa, as he looks to make a return to the professional game.
The 36-year-old retired from football three years ago, when he was diagnosed with leukaemia, but after fighting off the illness he now wants to restart his career.
Petrov has been training with Villa over pre-season, and he even started in an 8-0 friendly victory last weekend.
And Di Matteo said: “I told him the other day, he’s really an example for all of us. He’s a fantastic person to have in the group. Really cheerful man, very positive and he works hard. He always tries his best. I can see why he was a favourite.”
Petrov was working at a coach as Villa, but the midfielder decided that he still had a future as a player.
Whether the Claret and Blues will offer Petrov a contract remains to be seen, but Di Matteo has been impressed by what he has seen so far.
“He’s hit good standards,” Di Matteo added when asked how Petrov had performed on the pitch.
“He hasn’t missed a minute. It’s quite impressive.”
Villa are currently on tour of Austria, as they gear up for the upcoming campaign.
The Claret and Blues kick off their competitive season with a match against Sheffield Wednesday at the start of next month.