By Matt Farr
Former Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke has revealed he is thankful for the club for making him the player he is today and wants to see them back in the Premier League.
Benteke scored an impressive 49 goals from 101 appearances during his three seasons with Villa, establishing himself as a fan-favourite.
The supporters still hold him in high-regard, despite his £32.5 million move to Liverpool in 2015, and Benteke has sent a heartfelt message to the Villa fans in the Birmingham Mail, .
The Belgium international admitted he still has feelings for the club, and hopes that they will be playing in the Premier League again, alongside his current team, next season.
They are currently 13th in the Championship, some seven points behind the play-offs, but Bruce’s side have been in fairly good form since he took charge in October, and promotion is still achievable target.
Benteke told the Birmingham Mail: “I think it’s obviously the first club that I played for when I arrived in England and I have some good, good memories.
“So they are still in my heart because they gave me the chance to be the player I am now.
“You know how tough the Championship league is, you play every three days. I follow them and they have some good players and hopefully they will be back in the Premier League.”
Benteke avoided the embarrassment of finishing bottom of the league with Villa last season, having left to join Liverpool the previous summer.
However, after scoring just 10 goals in 42 appearances for the Reds, Benteke was sold on to Crystal Palace last summer. Since arriving at Selhurst Park, the 26-year-old has thrived, and he has eight goals already this season in 16 games.
With no Benteke at their disposal this season, Villa are currently relying on the goalscoring heroics of Ivory Coast forward Jonathan Kodjia. He has seven goals from 20 appearances.
In other Aston Villa news, Steve Bruce has laid down his side’s target for achieving promotion.