Oliver Norwood was still an aspiring young footballer trying to make his way in the men's game when he first met Gary Madine.
Only hours after arriving in Carlisle, where Manchester United had sent him to finish his apprenticeship, the midfielder checked into his lodgings on the outskirts of the city and made the acquaintance of his new companions.
"He looked after me in Carlisle," Norwood said, remembering the month he spent living with Madine while on loan with Cumbrians. "There was seven or so of us, all living together in a big house. It was pretty good fun."
Eight years later, following Madine's move to Sheffield United, the two are team mates once again. Norwood, a Northern Ireland international and serial promotion winner, is expected to make 25th appearance for Chris Wilder's side against Queens Park Rangers tomorrow afternoon. Madine, scheduled to spend the rest of the season at Bramall Lane following a temporary transfer from Cardiff City, will be appearing for the first time in a red and white shirt.
Norwood, speaking before training on yesterday morning, accepts his old mate is a controversial figure. But like Wilder, who had earlier urged supporters to get behind the centre-forward, Norwood hopes they park Madine's off-the-pitch indiscretions, spell with Sheffield Wednesday and consider, with United ranked third, the bigger picture.
"He was young at the time, and has made mistakes, but try and find someone in the world who hasn’t made mistakes," Norwood continued. "He wanted to come here, that says a lot about him. He adds to the group. he’s a different type of player.
"Hopefully the Sheffield United supporters get behind him because he is a Sheffield United player. We don’t want any distractions away from what we are trying to achieve as a team. He is part of the group so let’s see what he can do to help us keep our position in the league or go higher."
Madine, aged 28, began his career at Brunton Park; scoring 22 goals in only 39 starts before heading to Hillsborough. After being jailed for ABH and GBH in 2013, he resurrected his career with Bolton Wanderers before being signed, for a reported £6m, by City midway through last term. It was during that three year stay in Greater Manchester when a video was published on social media of Madine insulting Billy Sharp. The two have since patched up their differences with Madine apologising and United's captain, after being informed of Wilder's interest, encouraging him to bring the Gateshead-born marksman on board.
"There's been a lot of mickey taking going on, 100 per cent," United's manager admitted earlier this week. "The changing room runs itself. We all know what makes players tick and the wind-ups. That's par for the course."
"The gaffer has brought him into the group and we have welcomed him with open arms," Norwood added. "Hopefully, he can produce the goods here and score some goals to help us get into the top two."
Within touching distance of second-placed Norwich City, who they face at Carrow Road later this month, United have recruited Madine to bring a physical presence to an attack spearheaded by David McGoldrick and Sharp, who is the Championship's joint leading goalscorer.
Chasing his third promotion to the top-flight in as many seasons after helping both Brighton and Hove Albion and Fulham reach the Premier League, Norwood is convinced the experience Madine has gained after achieving the same feat with City will prove invaluable over the coming months.
"He scores goals at this level and brings something different, which we haven’t got," Norwood said. "He’s a target man, but we are not going to start slamming balls back to front. It always makes me laugh when everybody goes on about Peter Crouch being a target men, he’s a good footballer. Gazza is what he is; a good target man. But he can link the play as well and is a presence. He will add something different."