Big Ron: Benteke can be Aston Villa legend
Benteke, 22, enhanced his reputation with a 17-minute hat-trick as Villa demolished Sunderland 6-1 on Monday.
And former Villa boss Atkinson said: "He's the find of the season and has everything that makes a great centre-forward.
"Villa have a long line of centre-forward heroes and there is no doubt Benteke is good enough to be rated alongside them.
"My old man reckoned 'Pongo' Waring was the best of the lot and there have been a few since, like Gerry Hitchens, Andy Gray and Peter Withe.
"I have always been confident Villa would stay up and Benteke's been a key reason."