“That's the beauty of the league, you can go from one team to the other and not play with anyone that's really well known then the next month you can get thrust into a team with one of the biggest footballers in the world at one stage," said the Irishman to the Lancashire Evening Telegraph.
“It was a bit surreal sitting next to him, having conversations with him about normal things.
“He's a down-to-earth kind of guy and a great person to go out and have a chat with off the field.
“He didn't have any airs and graces, he never thought that he was better than anyone else. He was just a nice guy and we got on well.
“He was a great team-mate and captain, he led by example on many occasions and you could see why he was the best in the business for a long time."