Steve Bruce was full of praise for Curtis Davies after the Hull captain left the KC Stadium on Saturday with a nasty injury and clean sheet to his name.
Davies signed for the Tigers for £2.25million in the summer and has proved an instant success courtesy of a handful of powerful performances at the back.
He was at his best in the goalless Barclays Premier League draw against Aston Villa, fronting up in a physical contest with Czech striker Libor Kozak and coming out on top to be named man of the match.
The only down side on his day was an aerial clash with Kozak that left both men nursing head injuries.
Davies, for once, came off second best and posted a picture on Twitter showing a badly swollen eye and cut that requires several stitches.
Bruce was delighted with the player's quality and bravery in a match that otherwise had minimal talking points.
"Sometimes a centre-back doesn't get the recognition he deserves, but he really was a proper captain in this match. He was terrific," said Bruce, a long-serving member of the defenders' union from his playing days.
"He has a horrible, horrible cut now, a really nasty one. It's a cut over the eye but a bad one which is down to the bone. It might need internal stitches too.
"But he put in a fantastic performance and helped us get a clean sheet. I thought he was by far the most outstanding player on the pitch.
"He hasn't surprised me. For me to pay £2.25million is a lot of money. I've still got big connections at Birmingham and he's been their player of the year for the last two seasons, which is not easy to do for a centre-back."
One of Bruce's other summer signings, Danny Graham, has had a less successful start.
The striker, on a season-long loan from Sunderland, has not scored in seven Hull appearances and 24 in total, covering games with Swansea and the Black Cats.
Bruce defiantly defends his all-round efforts, but accepts the drought needs to end.
"I'm not interested in what went before. Danny has only been here for seven matches and he's contributing to the team," he said.
"He needs to stay strong and for us to support him.
"All strikers go through it and I'm sure he'll be bigger and better and stronger for it when he does come through it.
"He's a really decent footballer and he just needs a goal, like all strikers do."