Paul Lambert’s old manager Ottmar Hitzfeld endorses Aston Villa appointment

Paul Lambert's appointment as the new manager of Aston Villa has been given a stamp of approval by one of the most respected figures in European football.

Leading German manager Ottmar Hitzfeld – now manager of Switzerland – has praised the qualities of Lambert, whom he managed when in charge of Borussia Dortmund.

Hitzfeld, who has steered both Dortmund and Bayern Munich to league and Champions League success, said: 'I have always followed Paul since he left Dortmund, and I congratulated him on his promotion to the Premier League with Norwich City.

'As a player, he always thought like a coach. He was a leader so it is no surprise that he has become a successful manager.

'Paul was a very good team player. That is one of the most important qualities as a coach and manager of a team.'

Lambert fits the profile of the young and hungry manager wanted by club owner Randy Lerner. But it has emerged that it was chief executive Paul Faulkner who played the leading role in securing Lambert's services.

Villa held talks with Molde boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and representatives of Wigan manager Roberto Martinez. But the club stress Lambert was always the first-choice target to replace Alex McLeish, who was sacked nearly three weeks ago.

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Lambert will be given a transfer fund – said to be as much as �20m – to refresh the squad by Lerner, who wanted McLeish to reduce the wage bill last season. And the 42-year-old will also be able to spend any funds he generates from off-loading any current players.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa fans have given their backing to Lambert's appointment. Jonathan Fear, of the fans website 'Vital Villa', said: 'I think it is a smashing appointment. It is a good, solid appointment and he can have a look from top to bottom at what is needed at Villa.

'He has worked wonders at every club he has been at. We had a poll on our site of 14 managers and he led from start to finish as the first choice. '