Ryan Christie’s youthful confidence stood out to Dean Brill as he made his graduation from reserve-team prospect to first-team regular.
The Scotland playmaker’s back-story is one that has been well-versed during his emergence into a key player for club and country.
The son of a Caley Thistle player, manager and club stalwart, who emerged into an outstanding player in his own right under the stewardship of John Hughes.
Christie has proved doubters wrong at Celtic to become a mainstay of the side and is set for a pivotal role for Scotland under Steve Clarke, when their Euro 2020 campaign gets under way on Monday.
The 26-year-old has come a long way from affectionately being called “Nobby” as a teenager making his mark in the Highlands.
“I do remember young Nobby,” Brill said. “I keep in touch with a few of them (from Inverness).
“It’s really good to see; he deserved it as he was a special talent.
“He’s a lovely boy as well so I’m buzzing for him. It’s good to see him getting rewarded and it’s great for Inverness, as he’s gone on to another level.
“When I first went up it was pre-season under Terry Butcher. I remember him doing really well then but, after playing loads in pre-season, he didn’t really feature for us in the league under Terry.
“Yogi (John Hughes) came in and he wanted to play a style that suited Ryan, because he was slight and small. That was probably Terry Butcher’s reservation on him; we still played a bit under Terry but we were a bit more direct.
“Yogi’s style gave him that freedom to be a bit mavericky. He started playing a few games and slotted in.”
Christie is one of a number of potential attacking options for Clarke, as he plots ways past Czech Republic, England and Croatia.
It was his goal, of course, that set Scotland on the way to qualification in the play-off final against Serbia.
“He always had a great mentality; in training he was never scared, he was always confident,” added Brill. “He was a lovely lad at heart.
“He’s taken it in his stride. With his dad being a footballer, that was probably a big thing for him growing up. But he’s now gone on to another level and created that history for himself.
“Did he try and chip me in training? All the time. He was a confident so-and-so. We gave him a little bit of stick but it’s great to see him doing well.”
Fantastic!! Brings back so many great memories!! The impact he had on us as players cannot be underestimated!! Some team 💙❤️
— Dean Brill (@BrillDean) August 10, 2020
Christie is not the only member of Clarke’s squad to have crossed Brill’s path. David Turnbull was a youngster at Motherwell when the new Tottenham academy coach had a brief spell at Fir Park.
Both now share the same dressing room at club level with Celtic, with Turnbull following Christie into the Scotland squad with his debut against Netherlands.
“It’s the same with David at Motherwell,” added Brill. “You could see he had that mentality; it’s not arrogance it’s confidence. They exude it in any situation, no matter what the situation is. If they’re getting a rollicking or they’re playing well.
“They’ve both certainly had that.”