Former St Mirren manager Danny Lennon insists Kenny McLean can become Scotland’s answer to Italy icon Andrea Pirlo.
Norwich City midfielder McLean was a stand-out in the victory over Cyprus and defeat to Belgium in the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
It was Tuesday’s performance in Brussels up against the likes of Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne that left Lennon, who handed the 27-year-old his Buddies debut in 2010, bursting with pride.
Despite the 3-0 loss to Fifa’s top ranked team, McLean barely put a foot wrong, showing courage and composure in tight areas to retain possession.
And Lennon insists the former Aberdeen player reminds him of esteemed one-time World Cup and Champions League winner Pirlo.
Lennon said: “Kenny is elegant and pleasing on the eye and I actually see him in a role like Pirlo, he moved back into area and that’s the range of passing Kenny has.
“And that was him up against the likes of De Bruyne, guys at the top level.
“He’s matured and his range of passing is fantastic, I thought he also controlled the game in the San Marino match; and a lot of his passes were ten, 15 yards, he was playing people in and then going for that longer one. He is a really intelligent player.
“Kenny can do a bit of both, he can play in that deeper role but he can also go beyond because he’s got a terrific engine.”
Lennon also gave Scotland and Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn his competitive debut at Saints in 2012.
He will watch on with great interest to next season’s English Premier League campaign after both McLean and McGinn helped their respective sides earn promotion.
Lennon, who is now in charge of Clyde, believes the sky is the limit for the pair.
He added: “They’ve gone from strength to strength, to watch where they’ve come from to where they are now, and I think they could go all the way.
“I’ll be biased, I think they could go to even bigger clubs than where they are at this moment in time.
“It’s great to see the two of them have success in terms of getting their promotions and I very much look forward to them up against the top players in the English Premier League, that will be a real challenge but one I’m sure they’re both relishing.
“I still believe there is a lot more to come from them. Knowing the characters of the boys and given their age, I think they will give Scotland that longevity moving forward.
“As much as it’s nice to give them a helping hand in getting them on the right track, it’s down to the boys themselves and I’m delighted for them.”