The German manager coached the new Villa boss in Germany and delivered a glowing assessment of his qualities as a player and person ahead of his move to Villa Park
The legendary German coach signed the Scot from Motherwell in 1996 and was keen to praise the qualities he identified as being transferable between a player and manager. Lambert has since been recognised as one of the most promising coaches in Europe, prompting an approach from the Midlands club.
"As a player, Paul always thought like a coach," Hitzfeld told The Mirror. "He was a leader. I have followed his career since.
"What was most critical was that Paul was a very good team player. That is one of the most important qualities as a coach and manager of a team.
"Paul was one of the players responsible for keeping a good mood in the dressing room before a game, and after a defeat he was one of those who knew how to address a situation or any problem."
Lambert had been with Norwich since 2009, achieving back-to-back promotions from League One to the Premier League and securing a 12th-placed finish in their first season back in the top flight since 2004.
He replaces Alex McLeish in the Villa Park hot seat after the former Rangers boss was dismissed last month for guiding his side to just 16th place in the table, only two points off the relegation zone.