After witnessing Andy Robertson’s lung-busting runs down the left flank, superspy Stan Ternent grabbed his phone to begin the Scotland captain’s Premier League adventure.
As Hull City’s head of recruitment, Ternent had crossed the border to take in a couple of games which could be of benefit to then Tigers boss Steve Bruce.
“We were building a nice team there, which gained promotion into the Premier League, reached an FA Cup final and got into Europe,” explained Ternent.
“I went up to Kilmarnock for a Friday night game. They were playing Dundee United. I was also planning to take in a game on the Saturday.
“Really I had gone up to watch a player called Jonny Russell, who was playing for Dundee United. He eventually went to Derby and is now in the USA.
“There were two other players who took my eye – one in particular and that was Robbo. He was non-stop, going up and down the left side, and I thought to myself, ‘Who the hell’s that?’.
“The other was Stuart Armstrong, who is now at Southampton. The pair are great mates and I’ve got to know the lad who looks after them – Liam O’Donnell.
“I stayed up in Scotland on the Friday night, rang Brucie and I told him I thought I’d seen a good one, but the game had been played on a synthetic surface.
“Dundee United were playing again at Hibernian on the Tuesday night on grass, so I told Steve I’d take another look.
“I rang him at half-time on the Tuesday night and said to Brucie, ‘You’ve got to take him’. I also liked the look of Stuart Armstrong, but we were well stocked in midfield.”
Bruce has always trusted the former Blackpool, Hull City and Burnley manager’s opinions.
Ternent (left) had also recommended Harry Maguire, who was starting to make an impression with Sheffield United.
“I told Steve that Harry could be the new Steve Bruce – I don’t think I’ve been too far off the mark,” he added. “As far as Robbo was concerned, I knew Celtic had released him as a youngster. I think at the time they thought he was too small.
“But he went to Queen’s Park, who were in Scotland’s lowest tier, and showed great determination in fighting back.
“Dundee United picked him up. I could see straightaway that he was a fantastic athlete, a really strong runner. He was up and down the pitch so much anyone would have thought he had three lungs.
“Amazingly, I don’t think there was any other interest in him. It was just by chance, though, that I spotted him.”
Bruce heeded Ternent’s advice and Robertson arrived at the KCOM Stadium in 2014 for a £2.85million fee.
Three years later, he was on his way to Anfield to join Jurgen Klopp’s revolution for £8m and become a Kop hero.
Ternent admitted: “Obviously, no one could have envisaged the amazing progress he has made. I’m just glad I stuck to my guns and persuaded Steve to take him.
“I’ve watched his development at Liverpool with pride.
“Some people have already labelled him the best left-back in the world, which is staggering when you think that just a few years ago he was playing for Queen’s Park.
“He’s got a great temperament and plays with huge confidence. It’s no surprise he is now Scotland captain. I keep in touch with Liam and I’ve been invited to watch Liverpool a few times, but I haven’t got around to it yet.
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“Goodness knows what he must be worth now – not that Liverpool would contemplate selling him.
“Playing at Anfield doesn’t faze him at all. It doesn’t bother him – whether it’s the Champions League final or the World Club championship – he takes it all in his stride. He has been incredible.
“Any top club in Europe would love him in his side.
“He’s certainly come a long way since that night when I first saw him at Kilmarnock.
“I’m pleased for him because he’s a nice lad.”
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