Rangers hero Ronald De Boer reckons all the signs were there 16 years ago that Mikel Arteta had the X-factor to become a leading manager.
The former Ibrox star was confirmed as Arsenal 's new boss on Friday but he faces a major rebuilding job at the Emirates after a season to forget.
The 37-year-old has served his apprenticeship at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola but De Boer insists he was left convinced Arteta had something special long before he joined forces with the legendary Catalan.
The Barcelona academy graduate arrived at Ibrox from Paris Saint Germain in 2002 and was a vital member of the Rangers side that won the Treble in his first full season at the club.
And De Boer has revealed his instrumental role in helping Arteta adept to life in Scotland and what he learned about the man now charged with reviving the Gunners' fortunes during lengthy bonding sessions.
He told the Sunday Post: "From my own time at Barca, I could speak Spanish. So there was a natural coming together between Mikel and I.
"We spent a lot of time together. I became a father figure to him.
"His eyes were always open and he was always prepared to listen. He wanted to learn.
"Some days we would spend hour after hour, talking about the game over coffee.
"You can never be certain but I did get a feeling - even back then when he was so young - that he had a desire to get into coaching.
"That has turned out to be the case."
De Boer - who left Rangers the season after securing the trophy clean sweep in 2003 - wanted the club to do more to keep Arteta who decided on returning home.
But the Dutch legend reckons Arteta's varied playing career will set him in good stead as he gets ready to begin his new life as the main man at Arsenal.
He added: "I told the club to look after Mikel and work closely with him because they had a rough diamond.
"They had to polish him up a little bit to make him shine.
"Soon after that, he too had left, back to his hometown club, Real Sociedad in San Sebastian.
"He then went on to to have a great career at Everton and Arsenal. He became the captain and showed he was a leader.
"That's when you know you have the qualities to go into coaching and management."