Luton Town midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe has admitted he would love to lock horns with Paul Pogba in tonight's Carabao Cup tie.
Manchester United travel to Kenilworth Road looking to chalk up their first competitive win of the new season, though for the Hatters and Tunnicliffe in particular it will be a very special occasion.
Tunnicliffe, Pogba and Jesse Lingard were all part of the successful United Under-18s side that won the FA Youth Cup in 2011.
And although Tunnicliffe played only twice for United's senior side, leaving permanently in 2014, he looks back fondly on his time at Old Trafford, especially the friendship he built with Pogba. The Frenchman has gone on record in the past saying how much Tunnicliffe helped him.
“I have played alongside him quite a few times a while back but to play against him would be quite fun and I am sure he would say the same,” the Luton man told the Press Association about Pogba.
“Everyone can see he is world class. I study players and I have seen him in training but I am not the same player when I was 17 and I don’t think he is the same player as he has got bigger and stronger. I have an idea (how Pogba plays) but it is up to me to stop it.
“To win the World Cup is only something you dream of as a kid so for that to happen to him was amazing but when he first came he was a good lad.
“He was loud but I had been there a while so anything I could do to help him…I knew he would be my midfield partner so we tried to bond and have a relationship off the field and it was nice of him to say that [Tunnicliffe helped him].
“I think I am a nice guy and if he thinks I helped him, I am happy as he has gone on to do great things so if I can take a slight bit of credit for that, I am happy.”
Tunnicliffe has had spells at Fulham, Millwall and Wigan before moving to Luton in 2019, where is now an established member of the first team.
He is also looking forward to rekindling his relationship with former United reserves boss Ole Gunnar Solskjae r tonight.
“He was my reserve manager for a year or so before he left so I had a good relationship with him and it will be nice to catch up,” Tunnicliffe added.
“I think you could see he was just starting out in his first job but that respect goes a long way and he had the characteristics of Sir Alex Ferguson and you could see he would go on to be a manager – but to be United manager so soon I would not have said that.
“Growing up as a United fan, I had massive respect for him and the goals he scored. It was a bit daunting when I was 15 or 16, listening to him and stuff like that.
“I was nervous being near a legend but if I see him we will have a chat and ask how each other’s families are but it will be down to business. He has always been one of the nice guys in football.”