Wigan manager Roberto Martinez insisted that when he first saw Joe Allen play, the diminutive Welshman reminded him of Barcelona legend Pep Guardiola.
Martinez handed a 17-year-old Allen his debut in the final game of the 2006-07 Championship campaign at the Liberty Stadium as promotion hopefuls Swansea went down 6-3 to Blackpool.
And the Spaniard explained how he was struck by the way Allen, despite his 5ft 6in frame, dominated possession in a similar manner to that of Guardiola, who was a key component in Johan Cruyff's European Cup-winning Barca 'dream team'.
"I know Joe really well because I gave him his debut," said Martinez ahead of his side's trip to Anfield today. "Joe was at Swansea from nine years old and because of his build he always reminded me of Pep Guardiola and that sort of player.
"His debut was the last game of 2006-07 and I really tested his character, because we needed to win by many goals to get in the play-offs but at 17 you could see he was a special character.
"He dictated the play, wanted the ball, and the season after he played a part in the campaign when we won League One and then in the Championship he played 23 games.
"His development was progressive and he became a very different British player.
"He was very talented that he could control the game, read the tempo, knew when to play backwards and sideways instead of forward. He was a quiet, distinctive young player coming through."