Wolves winger Adama Traore used to terrorise defences during his youth days in Spain due to his electric pace, his former Barcelona youth coach Andres Carrasco has said.
In trying to stop him, opponents would often resort to crude tactics, but this bullying failed to stop him reaching the top.
The 24-year-old has since dramatically bulked up and is now regarded as one of the most exciting wingers in the Premier League.
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“When Adama had the ball in a one against one, the defenders didn’t even smell him. He created total panic among them,” Carrasco told The Sun.
“There were a lot of 11-year-old boys at Barcelona who gave the impression they were three or four years older. Adama wasn’t like that. He was very small — one of the smallest in the team — but really caught our attention.
“When we defended a corner, we’d put him on the edge of box to take advantage of the rebounds. With his speed we’d go straight up to the other end — he scored a lot like that.
“When he was a little boy I’ve never seen so many brutal and dirty tackles against a player in grassroots football.
“The incredible thing is Adama kept getting kicked and we’d have our hands over our faces that he’d be badly injured — but he always got up as if nothing had happened.”
His direct style was not necessarily an easy fit for the tiki-taka style of football he grew up with at Barcelona, and Carrasco says that leaving the club might have been the best thing he could have done.
“English football is made for him and obviously he has silenced any who doubted him,” the now Kuwait coach explained.
“Look at the international market, there are no players of his ability to destroy defenders in a one vs one.
“He is the best — Adama can change a game.”
Adama is still searching for his first goal or assist of the new Premier League campaign but will hope to get it when Wolves travel to face Leicester on Sunday. Last term, he wound up with four goals and nine assists in the league.