Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admitted he thought midfielder David Silva would “suffer” playing in England due to his stature.
Silva is in line to make his 400th appearance for City in their Premier League game at Bournemouth on Sunday.
It is the 33-year-old’s final season in England, having won four league titles, four League Cups and two FA Cups.
“Happily, I was wrong”, said Guardiola, who described Silva as “one of the most intelligent players I have ever seen”.
He added: “Moving in these small spaces, he’s really good, one of the best.
“But he’s tiny, a little player, not a box-to-box player and my image of England from the outside, I thought ‘maybe he’s going to suffer’.
“That was my first impression. You can play a good season but he’s done it for 10 seasons, it is almost incredible. He’s a huge competitor. How he reacts to the bad moments – his specific qualities help him survive in the Premier League. He should be so proud.”
Spaniard Silva was recently chosen by his team-mates to take over the armband following former captain Vincent Kompany’s departure.
“He has a lot of experience, knows exactly what the team needs, what he has to do,” said Guardiola. “Every captain is different, has a different personality. He has to do what he believes.”