He was so far out the picture under Paul Lambert that he was ordered to train with the youth team.
He recalled to the Scottish Sun: "To go from doing nothing at Villa, feeling as if I was wasting away, then be playing Real Madrid the next minute, it definitely makes it that bit more special.
"I had a few conversations with the manager at Villa but he never really went into any depth about his reasons.
"I realised things were going badly when I didn't go on the pre-season and it went in stages after that.
"Then I was training with the first team. Then training with the kids. Eventually, you think to yourself 'What am I doing here? I'm getting nothing out of this'."