Mark Hughes is hoping Billy Kee can inspire Stanley to a win against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.
Kee, 29, announced his retirement from full-time professional football this week due to health reasons and is returning to the Wham Stadium to say his farewells on Saturday.
Hughes has played alongside Kee for three seasons and enjoyed great times with the pair playing regularly as Stanley won the League Two title in 2018 against the odds.
“Sean McConville and I were close to Billy, Sean roomed with Billy and spent a lot of his playing career with him so it has hit us hard,” said the defender.
“Billy is part of the DNA of the club and it’s a shame he has had to retire from full-time football but we all understand why he has done it.
“Billy was part of some of the best memories of my career. Even though I am a defender and he is a striker, straight away I was on the same wavelength as him. If I played a ball forward, I knew where he was without looking up, he was a real battering ram up front from us.
“There are great memories of the title win and his last minute goal at Luton was a catalyst to us winning the title.
“I hope he carries on playing and it becomes a hobby rather than a job.
“He is a superb footballer and a good man and it will be good to see him, hopefully we can give him a win. Perhaps he could put his kit on and play!
“It will give us a buzz for Saturday, it’s a massive game for us and we need to be brave, show our character, be mentally strong and there are no excuses - we need a result.”
Manager John Coleman said: “It’s not such a bombshell for us Billy retiring as it’s been a long process.
“Billy is a smashing lad, he is a good friend, and I would like to see him return to part-time football where he can play for pleasure as he did not enjoy his football like he should have done.
“Luton was a thrill for everyone and it’s in the top three football moments of all time for me but his health and happiness are most important and it’s great he will be here to get the send-off he deserves.”