One of Scott McTominay’s early coaches had no doubt Lancaster’s Manchester United star had the attributes to be a future Old Trafford captain.
The former Halton St Wilfrid’s pupil was just five when he arrived at the Red Devil’s North West Development Centre in Preston, where Charlie Jackson was the head coach.
“What stood out was his deft touch and to see a five-year-old doing what he was doing, with the ball stuck to his feet and an incredible intuition on the pitch, it amazing to witness,” said Jackson, who runs the Moorland School Football Academy in Clitheroe.
“Even then, Scott had the heart of a lion and a tenacious attitude, overcoming the physically stronger boys, some twice his size.
“Scott also had an incredible mental fortitude and what he is achieving, you could see that at six or seven that he was going to be a winner, does not surprise me whatsoever.
“Scott is getting talked about as a Manchester United captain and there’s no reason why not because he has those special leadership qualities that so few have.
“Scott can be anything he wants because his ethos is work, work and more work.
“Also, he is a very grounded person, a nice human being, and with one of the finest coaches in the world, Jose Mourinho, guiding him then I’m sure he will succeed and flourish in a massive career that will see him win many trophies.”
In 2015, McTominay was only 5ft 6ins but the all-action midfielder has benefited from a major growth spurt.
“He was the tiniest little lad when I first saw him, and although he was the youngest we’d ever had there, he was the best,” recalls Jackson.
Now his confidence, the realisation that he was no longer a young man of promise but a grown footballer of some achievement came when Mourinho blooded him from the start against Benfica in their Champions League victory at Old Trafford as he was singled out for praise by United great Paul Scholes.
A year earlier McTominay had been playing as a makeshift striker for the reserves but scored his first senior goal for the Red Devils during Manchester United’s pre-season tour and also got game time against Real Madrid.
Indeed, Mourinho underlined his growing faith in McTominay, handing him his full Premier League debut versus Crystal Palace on the final day of the 2016-17 campaign.
“I believe he is the longest serving player at Manchester United now, and that makes me very proud because it was an absolute privilege to be part of Scott’s development and the rest is up to him now,” said Jackson.