Branislav Ivanovic is 'unbelievable' and a 'competitive animal', says boss Jose Mourinho of Chelsea's Villa Park saviour.
The big Serb fullback struck the 66th minute winner on Saturday, which saw Blues take away three points from a bogey ground where Mourinho had never got a result.
It put his side seven points clear of Manchester City at the toip of the Premier League table, and the Portuguese boss announced that he was a huge fan of the man he said was one of the club's best signings of recent years.
“It was a striker's goal,” sad Mourinho.
“Every striker in the world would be proud to score a goal like that. It was magnificent. So imagine a right-back, and a right-back whose scored an amazing goal with his weaker foot.
“And it was especially good as it was the winning goal. If you score and it was the last of three or four it has a different feeling.
“I'm very happy as he is a great guy. What he is doing for us is unbelievable. He got a (badly cut foot) injury against Liverpool and still played on, and then against
Man City, and then again against Villa - it's fantastic character.”
Asked if Ivanovic, signed from Lokomotiv Moscow back in January 2008 for around £9.7m, was one of the Blues' best acquisitions, Mourinho said: “I think so. He came just after I left. And after that he made a fantastic contribution for us.
“(He is a) competitive animal, (has) a big heart.
“What matters is what we as a club feel for him also what we feel for people like John Terry and Gary Cahill.
“These kinds of guys, who without them, you can't do anything. This is our team. We have an artist like Eden Hazard and a defender like Ivanovic. The mixture of these talents is what makes a winner.”