Hello from Israel, Villans.
I hope you are all enjoying the season and our terrific form as we continue our promotion push.
Welcome to my new blog exclusively for Villa's Official Website. I'll be doing these every few months throughout the campaign and look forward to sharing my thoughts on a host of topics with you.
I'll begin by giving you a quick update on my life at present. At the moment, I'm living in a town called Kiryat Shmona in the north of Israel, and playing in the equivalent of the Premier League over here.
I'm really enjoying it even though I'm away from my family. It's a quiet place where it's easy to focus on football, so my average day is training in the morning, gym in the afternoon and relaxing in the evenings.
We have good potential in the team I'm playing for – Hapoel Kiryat Shmona. It's a young squad and we're doing well in the league. The target this year is to be in the top six and qualify for the play-offs. We're currently sixth, just inside those positions.
Because of location, it's hard to follow Villa at the moment because in Israel they don't show many games.
However, I follow the club on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter a lot and read most of the articles that go up on the Official Website – so I manage to stay well informed despite not seeing games live.
I really like the club's digital media, it gives me everything I need from match and squad updates to a bit of light-hearted fun. It's very well rounded, and covers all bases for people like me who have to follow from afar.
My social media also allows me to see messages from Villans all the time. It makes me happy to see that you still have good memories of me and I must say thank you for that. I also have great memories of my time with the club – my best years were at Villa Park. It's nice to feel that warmth is still there with the supporters.
I've not been back to Villa Park since losing 6-1 with Sunderland. There were a lot of emotions to cope with that day. So I will do my best to get back perhaps in the summer and enjoy a better experience.
Maybe for a promotion party? I'd love that!
My top-three Villa team-mates
We had some great times in my spell at the club and it's really difficult to pick a few individuals because I think a lot of our success was down to the fact we had a good team spirit.
I was so lucky to have played with some fantastic players, but the best three would have to be Stiliyan Petrov, Martin Laursen and James Milner.
I can't say I keep in regular touch with them at the moment, but I will definitely schedule in some trips to England and arrange to meet up with them.
We had some great years together and it would be great to catch up.
Promotion, John Terry and a defence I’d love to have been part of
Our start this season was a little bit slow but we've looked very good since mid-September.
The team are very solid at the back and Albert Adomahin particular is doing great things up the attacking end of the pitch.
Before the campaign started, I remember reading the news in the days that led up to John Terry's signing and I thought: 'no way, the press are crazy, this won't happen'. I’ve never been so glad to admit I was wrong.
After Chelsea, he could have gone on to play for any club in the Premier League. I was very surprised that he chose to play in the Championship, even if we are a huge club with great history and attraction.
I was so happy when the news was confirmed. He has the obvious qualities on the pitch but will be great around the place with other players, too. It's a shame about his injury but we've got players who've covered for him well so far.
I've met him a few times in the past and he's very friendly – a good guy. He's a great choice as captain.
I'm a big fan of James Chester as well, I remember him playing for Bruce at Hull City. I thought when I watched him there that he was one of the best about in the air and very strong. He's a great partner for JT.
It’s no wonder we’ve got one of the best defensive records in the Championship at the moment.
Spain: World Cup hopes and the controversial new shirt
I think we have a good chance at the World Cup with the new manager, Julen Lopetegui, next summer. We've kept the style of the World Cup and European Championship winning teams from a few years ago.
Now, we're also more aggressive when we press and have to recover the ball. It's not just about keeping the ball now, it's about playing at a high intensity when we don't have possession.
They have a good chance and are one of the favourites for the competition next year, alongside Germany and Brazil. The draw will be very interesting this coming Friday.
As for the new kit, I really like it. It's similar to the World Cup shirt we wore in America at the 1994 World Cup. It's been a controversial one because people think the shade of blue has political connotations, but I don't think that's the case.
It's a nod to the past shirts and I like it – it's classic.
England: Good on our former man Southgate
I watched England under our ex-player Gareth Southgate earlier this month and they looked much better, in my opinion. They looked solid against two top teams in Germany and Brazil.
It's going to be a step-by-step process of improving but there's good players and quality in there. I still think they could be the surprise package at the tournament.
Gareth's doing a very good job and I remember playing for Villa against one of his Middlesbrough sides. He's switched on and I wish him the best of luck.
There’s always a lot of expectation around England and it’s never going to be in easy for him. But I just wanted to bring up how much better they looked in early November, and that I hope they can bring you some joy in Russia.
I also wish Villa, Steve Bruce, the players and all of you supporters the best of luck over Christmas and New Year. It's a critical time in any season when you're challenging at the top end, so hopefully in my next blog we can reflect on what has been a successful festive period.
Great to be back in touch.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Up The Villa!