Scott McTominay’s physical qualities, passing ability and standing at Manchester United saw his Scottish heritage questioned by national team coach Peter Grant.
A man now working as Alex McLeish’s assistant manager was among those to spot the midfielder’s potential as he made a breakthrough with the Red Devils.
Grant was, however, dubious when informed that a commanding presence in the middle of the park could be eligible to represent Scotland through his father.
Ahead of a potential senior international debut against Costa Rica for McTominay, Grant said in The Scotsman: “I was actually at Scott's first game [against Arsenal] and didn't know he was Scottish.
“I remember thinking: ‘Wow. Where has he come from?’
“You read the story and he was the young man who didn't play much at Manchester United at Under-18s and Under-21s.
“That game I saw him in, he was like an old pro. He used the ball very well, played with enthusiasm, a knowledge and understanding. The first thing I saw was ‘Mac’ and I was laughing about that, saying he must be Scottish.
“I had never heard of him before that night at the Emirates. You look at him and think he can't be Scottish because he's 6ft 4in, passes the ball really well and is playing central midfield for Manchester United against Arsenal.
“But then I was speaking to someone and they said: ‘I think he can play for Scotland, his dad is Scottish’. The next thing it is in the papers and you think: ‘Wow, what an opportunity’. In one of his first interviews he did, he said he considered himself Scottish.
“It was like planes, trains and automobiles for Alex trying to get down to meet him because of the weather. But he said you could tell in five minutes what the boy was going to say.
“I'm excited as well. A good friend of mine is Michael Carrick and if he can learn from a top player like that - one of the best midfielders in Britain - then it's a great opportunity for Scott.”
Scotland are delighted to have got McTominay on board, with the 21-year-old adamant that he never considered plumping for England, and it is hoped that his experience of top-level football will prove invaluable on an international stage.
Grant added: “People say he took his time selecting Scotland, but I think there was just a hell of a lot of things going on.
“He was concentrating on playing for Manchester United, getting into the team and learning from some world-class players. He has done that exceptionally well.
“The fact he is selected in the big games tells you a lot about his temperament and background.
“I think that's important, to have winners in your group - those who are talking about winning trophies and challenging, like Andy Robertson. He has done magnificently.”