Paul Pogba was kicked around the training field by Manchester United legend Paul Scholes, says Nemanja Vidic.
The Frenchman was still in his teens when he forced his way into the senior fold at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson.
While his potential was clear for all to see, with it important for him to be handled with care, those in the first-team fold showed no leniency to the youngster.
It was those same players who would block his path and lead him to seek game time at Juventus, but they also toughened him up to become the buccaneering £89 million midfielder he is today.
“Paul [Pogba] was only 17 and already as physically strong as he is now, with a very good physique,” Vidic told ESPN FC.
“Paul Scholes would kick him and test him, just as he did when I arrived.
“Scholes was showing the will to win, showing that we were not friends kicking the ball about, but that we trained tough and strong, as if we were in matches. It was: ‘You kick me and I kick you’. We fought every day and didn't need to switch on for a game because we were always switched on.
“United had a lot of players like that, who were so competitive. That meant we were better prepared, even more than some of the best teams, who had great players but not the same drive to win. We'd go to games in Europe, or to Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool and not fear anybody.”
Vidic has also revealed that facing Cristiano Ronaldo in training on a daily basis helped both men to improve, with the former working on the defensive side of his game while the latter – who has gone on to become a four-time Ballon d’Or winner – was able to fine tune his attacking instincts and mature physically.
“Cristiano was visibly improving by the week and I know because I was playing against him every day,” added Vidic, who won five Premier League titles and the Champions League over the course of seven-and-a-half years at Old Trafford.
“I improved playing against him. If he beat me, I'd see it as a challenge not to be beaten by him the next time. I learned, he learned.
“He trained hard and stayed behind after to practice his skills with his left and right foot. People think his talent came naturally, but he really worked hard to get where he is, worked hard at everything.
“Look at his body now; he was skinny when he came to United. He's hardly had any injuries either, yet he trained at full level.”