Peter Hartley loved being on Louis Moult’s side when the Dundee United striker was in his top flight pomp.
Six years ago, Moult scored 13 goals in 22 games by mid-November, leading the line for a high-achieving Motherwell team that reached the League Cup Final.
Moult’s two previous seasons were 18-goal campaigns; consistent Premiership production that earned him a £450,000 transfer to Preston North End in January 2018.
The Englishman’s wretched fortune with injury since has been well documented.
But ex-Well captain Hartley believes there’s no reason why Moult cannot return to posting that kind of top flight scoring production – next season in a promoted Dundee United team.
Hartley, now playing in India for Inter Kashi, believes it is Moult’s destiny to return to the Scottish top flight where he carved his reputation as one of the most accomplished No. 9s in the country.
Hartley said: “I played with Louis for seven months before he got that transfer to Preston and when he was right at the top of his game.
“I think coming back up the road to find Dundee United is the best decision he’s made in his career.
“Scottish football suits. I’ve seen one or two of his highlights, I’ve spoken to him and he’s very happy; his missus and kids love Scotland.
“If Louis is happy off the pitch, you’re going to get the best Louis on the pitch.
“I’m delighted with the way he started the season and settled in at United.
“I noticed he said, as soon as he moved to Dundee United, that he had come to get promoted and play in the Premiership.
“When a player says that and has the balls to speak it, people can believe in it and invest in it – and, generally, it comes true.
“I believe in Louis. So I believe Dundee United will be exactly where they deserve to be. I hope he’s back in the Premiership proving his undoubted ability.”
Hartley’s heart went out to his former colleague through the desperately dark days of serious injury struggles.
In spells with Preston then Burton Albion, Moult endured three knee operations plus persistent ankle issues that were finally fixed last January.
“To see him now shows how mentally strong he is because he broke down with injury after injury,” Hartley noted.
“Having these injuries can, mentally, really affect you in the moment.
“If Louis has got through that, which it looks like he has, then if you’ve looked after your body it can give you longevity in your career.
“Missing as much as one or two seasons altogether through injury is one or two less load through your legs of playing 40+ games a season.
“You can hopefully add them on at the end of your career, if he wants to.”
Moult seized the opportunity offered in the summer by Jim Goodwin to lead United’s charge to the second-tier title.
He’s netted eight times in 17 appearances but didn’t register a goal in November.
Four blanks included two surprise cup competition exits to Falkirk and Queen Of The South.
However, Goodwin’s men remain unbeaten in the league; a point ahead of Raith Rovers after 13 games.
Hartley believes Moult’s class will tell through the campaign. He recalls training games at Motherwell being hard going for a centre half when pitted against the United hit man.
Louis Moult ‘understands the game’
“Louis, to me, is an unbelievable striker,” said Hartley. “And he’s a guy who you would always want in your team and in your dressing room.
“You look at this guy on the pitch and think he’s a skinny guy or not the tallest but maybe he’s actually the ideal height for a striker.
“He will take a kick and he’s so intelligent at using his body. He’ll wait for you to jump off the floor to head the ball and he’ll just bump you and chest it down instead.
“He’s got this knack of waiting for you to be off balance, as a defender, to capitalise on it.
“He knows where the space is, how to create it. He understands the game so well.
“I wish him nothing but success because he’s a cracking person too.”