Emile Heskey has backed Martin O'Neill to "bring back the glory days" to Aston Villa.
Heskey scored Wigan Athletic's goal in their 1-1 draw against Villa two days ago and, while he was jeered throughout the match for his links to Birmingham City, he has admiration for the newfound harmony at Villa Park.
And Heskey's praise for the Villa manager is not empty and half-hearted. He knows O'Neill well, having successfully played under the Ulsterman with Leicester City during the late-Nineties.
O'Neill left Leicester for Celtic in the same year, 2000, that Heskey left Leicester to play for Liverpool. But, if their handshake after the match is anything to go by, they share a mutual affection.
Heskey's previous trip to Villa Park, this time last year, saw him play for Birmingham against Villa. These were unsettling days for both clubs. Birmingham were sinking towards relegation; Villa were in decline during the final days of the David O'Leary era.
Although Villa are barely better off, in terms of points gained, than they were a year ago, there is clearly significant improvement in terms of personnel and in terms of confidence. The perception is that Villa are now going forwards, whereas last season they were in a void. The arrival of O'Neill has worked wonders.
"Martin O'Neill can bring the glory days back to Villa," said Heskey. "He has got that in him. He has been successful everywhere he has been. He has got that in him to bring the best out of these players.
"They might have a few more players to bring in during the close season but, if anyone can bring the best out of players, it is Martin. He has got a good bunch of players here. They have improved from 12 months ago.
"They are playing with confidence and when players play with confidence, you get more out of them.
"He got the best out of me and I think he can do that with the younger lads here and even some of the older ones."
Heskey was part of what is widely regarded as one of Leicester's finest teams. They won the League Cup twice under O'Neill and competed in Europe. Heskey has no doubts that Villa are heading in that direction.
He was also pleased to see Patrik Berger, his former team-mate with Liverpool, perform so well for Villa against Wigan. Berger has quickly become a key player for Villa and now seems likely to stay for at least another season.
Heskey and Berger were part of the same Liverpool squad that won five trophies during 2001. They went their separate ways - Berger to Portsmouth in 2003, Heskey to Birmingham in 2004 - but are still showing the attributes that made them important international players.
However, not all is well with Heskey. Nearly a year on from relegation with Birmingham, he is worried about a bout of deja vu.
Wigan are now fighting for their Premiership lives and Heskey wants to use his experience of 2006, when Birmingham crumbled badly, to help him a year on.
"I don't want that [relegation] to happen again," he said. "No one wants to go down, myself especially. We are trying to stay in this league.
"That was the lowest point of my career, to go down 12 months ago. It was a difficult time. Birmingham is a brilliant club and I hope they come straight back up.
"We are hoping for a couple of wins and draws. We want to do as much as we can."
With that in mind, Heskey saw the draw against Villa as a case of Wigan dropping two points - even though the Greater Manchester club played the majority of the match with ten men after the sending-off of Luis Antonio Valencia.
"It is two points dropped, really," Heskey said. "We went to Villa positive. The lads did really well but Antonio got the red card. He was a bit unlucky. He is not malicious kind of player.
"It is the first time he has probably tackled that way. It was a bit dangerous, the tackle, and he is a bit disappointed with himself but we lost two points.
"We played some decent football before the red card, were getting at them in the right areas and were 1-0 up.
"In the second half, the back four and the goalkeeper [John Filan] were brilliant but everyone played well because it was a difficult one, two banks of four playing against all-out attack."