Brendan Rodgers knew Stuart Armstrong was going to be a top quality player the minute the Celtic manager stepped through the door at Parkhead.
Speaking at a fans Q&A, Rodgers heaped praise upon his midfielder on the same day Armstrong celebrated his 25th birthday.
Armstrong has been in terrific form since displacing Nir Bitton in the Celtic starting XI in late October and earned his first Scotland cap earlier this week. He’s even been tipped as a Player of the Year contender despite featuring mainly as a squad player in the first four months of Celtic’s campaign.
After agreeing to take the Celtic job last summer, Rodgers analysed a lot of the team’s matches from last season to familiarise himself with the squad.
Despite Armstrong being one of many below par performers from the 2015/16 season, Rodgers immediately liked what he saw in the swashbuckling midfielder, and it wasn’t just his hairstyle.
He said: “When I first decided to come here, it was a case of getting in as many videos and games as I possibly could to try and assess the players. I knew some of them but I didn’t know a lot of them.
“The one player who stood out above them all was Stuart Armstrong.
“Technically he has everything. He’s strong. I wasn’t sure tactically how he was but he looked like he had an idea. Physically he has everything: he’s fast, he’s strong, he’s powerful. Mentally, I had to find out, because playing for Celtic you have to be mentally strong to cope.
“We had the raw materials there. And it took a bit of time, because when I come in I can be quite demanding. He wasn’t fit enough when I came in. You need to be able to run in my team.
“He’s a really bright boy. A really clever boy - as well as having lovely hair.
“He’s 25 today. But what a player. He’s a joy to work with.”
• The full Q&A is available via the 20 Minute Tims podcast. You can follow them on Twitter here.