Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has received high praise from manager Alex McLeish, who says the 32-year-old sets a shining example to the younger players in the squad.
The Villa boss has three young hopefuls on his hands, Marc Albrighton, Nathan Delfouneso and Fabian Delph, who all play for the England Under 21 international side, and McLeish pointed out the great experience that Petrov has to offer his teammates.
The Scotsman said: "The experience of players such as Stiliyan is vital for the young players. He's a great example. I think the players look up to him. He's got so much experience both at international and European level."
McLeish first saw Petrov in the Scottish Premier League when the Bulgarian was playing for Celtic, with the former Birmingham boss then in charge of Rangers, and spotted his talent in the middle of the park.
"Stiliyan was more of a marauder at Glasgow Celtic and scored a lot of goals coming from his great runs from midfield," he said.
But McLeish has since discovered a player that has matured into the talisman of the team who can still threaten up front despite his advancing years. As you get older sometimes you modify your game a little bit, but I know that Stiliyan can still choose his moments to get forward and create of score goals," he continued.
"We always want players that have got that kind of talent to have that freedom."
Petrov led his side to a 1-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers in the Asia Trophy on Wednesday, and will go on to face Chelsea in the final on Saturday 30.
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