Steve Eyre always knew that Joey Barton and Kasper Schmeichel would have bright futures as Fleetwood Town eye a Carabao Cup giantkilling at Leicester City this evening.
Eyre, Town’s first-team coach, spent 21 years as a youth coach at Manchester City, watching players like Barton and Schmeichel rise through the ranks.
Barton’s elevation to City’s first team in 2002 overlapped with the arrival of Schmeichel.
Barton went on to carve a career in the Premier League before hanging up his playing boots and swapping the pitch for the dug out.
Schmeichel, 31, has made his name at Leicester, winning the Premier League title, though he may not feature for the Premier League side at the King Power Stadium tonight.
Eyre said: “I watched every training session, every Saturday morning game; there were some senior coaches with some serious expertise who were looking after our manager and Kasper Schmeichel at the time.
“They spent big parts of their schoolboy youth together in the same football house; we are all very close, our manager often fondly mentions that you don’t have to have conversations with such people.
“You cannot see them for many years but there is a look in your eye that it was such a special time at a special place that you can just look at each other.
“I was fortunate to have that with the manager and I will have that with Kasper.”
Eyre always knew that Schmeichel junior would follow in the footsteps of his father, Peter, a team-mate of Barton from his 12-month spell at City’s former home of Maine Road.
He was not the only keeper City brought through with Sheffield Wednesday’s Keiren Westwood and Crystal Palace’s Wayne Hennessey also in their goalkeeping ranks.
After bringing through many young talents at City, Eyre is now ready for a new project at at Highbury.
He said: “They have all gone on to be international goalkeepers so we did something right with our goalkeeping recruitment.
“But it did not just stop there though, we have had over a hundred players that have gone on to play in the Football League.
“I am lucky enough to work with every one of them and I am a friend, almost a father figure, to most of them.
“It is something that I look back fondly on but not for too long because I am on with this project.
“This is the next part of my life; I’m with some fantastic people, it is a fantastic club and I could not be happier.”