Steve Eyre believes Chesterfield fans should go to the Proact this week to watch ‘the most naturally gifted young player’ he’s seen.
Manchester City youngster Phil Foden is in the England Under 21 squad for Thursday night’s European Championship qualifier, hosted at the Spireites’ home.
Eyre, Chesterfield’s former assistant manager, became aware of the midfielder almost a decade ago while working for City.
“I came across Philip when he was nine,” said Eyre.
“When he came in I oversaw the coaching programme at the Manchester City academy and we were very much aware of his talent, so much so that whatever group I coached that evening, Philip joined me in that session.
“So one night he’d be with his own age groups, another night he’d be training with the U14s and U15s such was his talent and temperament.”
Eyre, now at Fleetwood with Joey Barton and Clint Hill, says Foden, 18, has a special ingredient that only the best players possess.
“We had this conversation this week with Joey, Clint and the staff, talking about the best players in the world, picking out an ingredient all the best players have got that rarely gets mentioned.
“All the best players in the world, Messi, Ronaldo, Zidane, Henry, the best ones have unbelievable balance but it rarely gets mentioned.
“Phil is the most naturally gifted young player I’ve seen with the ball at his feet in terms of touch and skill and imagination, but it’s the balance that sets him apart.”
Eyre says the footballing world has so far only seen flashes of Foden’s talent, due to the quality and depth in the City ranks.
“He is still missing that 90 minute experience, that 0-0 scoreline experience which is evading him at the moment, such of the quality and depth of Manchester City’s squad.
“We are only seeing glimpses.
“There is a trust between a young player and arguably the best coach in the world, it’s a hand in glove relationship.
“He’s had that young England tournament experience but he needs that Premier League experience.
“I’m hoping as a supporter that his growth will continue.”
And he hopes Town fans will get to see his ability on display at the Proact.
“I would encourage people to watch him, if only for the way he receives the ball in different areas, he’s just so graceful,” said Eyre.
“He’s a 360 degrees player, every time he gets the ball every one of his team-mates is available.
“Hopefully he plays well, scores and wins.”