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It took two weeks for us to see Mainoo was ‘exceptional’… at four years old

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Kobbie Mainoo’s rise to fame has been hugely impressive, and his former coach could see his potential from the very start.

Mainoo has enjoyed an excellent breakthrough season at Manchester United, making 20 appearances at just 18-years-old.

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Mainoo has quickly turned into a starter for one of the biggest clubs in the worldCredit: Getty

He was rewarded with his first England cap against Brazil and looks set to make his first start against Belgium on Tuesday, live on talkSPORT.

Whilst many fans may be surprised to see such a quick acceleration into senior football, one of his ex-coaches knew he could be special.

Steve Vare coached him at Cheadle & Gatley Junior Football Club and revealed to talkSPORT just how quickly it took the youngster to impress him, saying: “Kobbie joined us at about four or five years of age.

“At the time, we were running an indoor facility for school year reception and school year one, so they’d be four or five years of age. I think within the space of a couple of weeks, you just could tell that this boy was exceptional, an absolutely exceptional talent.

READ MORE ON KOBBIE MAINOO

“Even at four or five, I know it sounds silly to say that, did we think he would make his Man United debut and play for England? Of course not but he obviously hope and dream for the lad.

“But he was a phenomenal player and I remember one of the parents that used to help me out on a Sunday morning, who actually did or does some professional coaching himself, looked at me and said, ‘Wow, what a player this kid could be.’

“Even at that young age, I think as Declan Rice sort of put it, calm and composed. I think you’d even say that about how Kobbie at four or five years of age, nothing fazed him, absolutely nothing.”

Vare added: “I think for us down at Cheadle & Gatley, we realised that we had to challenge Kobbie from an early start.

Mainoo also now plays on the international stage despite still being a teenager

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Mainoo also now plays on the international stage despite still being a teenagerCredit: Getty
His former coach Vare could see he would be a special player from a young age

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His former coach Vare could see he would be a special player from a young age

“We used to do a warm-up before we got into the internal matches and generally you’d play a nice, soft pass for the boy to kick it into the goal and score a goal. But with Kobbie, it was just far too easy for him.

“So I used to get to the point where I’d absolutely fizz passes into him, and again he would just take it in his stride and slot it into the corner of the net. You then thought, ‘Well how do you challenge him even more so?’

Kobbie Mainoo’s Former Coach reveals how the Manchester United youngster was ‘exceptional’ even at 4 years old

“So I’d start to chip the ball into him so it’d bounce just before him and again he would time it and just kick the ball into the net. Within the five-a-side matches that we used to have, he just used to glide through games and he would score 14, 15 goals in a five-a-side game.

“We had two pitches set up, one was for school year reception and then the other side was for school year one, so some slightly older boys, more physical boys and girls.

“But very, very early on we thought, ‘Kobbie needs to be playing on the older boys pitch’ and nothing fazed him. His dad used to say, ‘How can we challenge him?’

“We used to put little tests in, so you can only score with your weaker foot, you could only have two touches, you had to pass to a colleague because otherwise he would just find it all too easy.

Mainoo is currently on an upward trajectory towards the very top

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Mainoo is currently on an upward trajectory towards the very topCredit: Getty

“We used to have to try and load the opposing teams up with our sort of better players that were down there just to try and sort of challenge him.

“He would just take everything in his stride and you have to be careful sometimes of pushing boys up into say the older pitch because they’re all of a sudden getting knocked about, it’s a bit more physical, but not for Kobbie. He just took it all in his stride and was just like, ‘Bring it on.'”



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