That is what happened to Barnsley’s Romal Palmer when he left Manchester City’s academy after a decade with the Blues in 2018, with the words of wisdom being imparted by France World Cup winner Patrick Vieira, one of the greatest-ever midfielders from the Premier League era.
That Vieira, then on the coaching staff at City, provided the uplifting message at the time that Palmer was released by his boyhood club probably meant so much more. While not yet being the finished article, Palmer has heeded Viera’s advice and has successfully rebuilt his career across the Pennines at Oakwell and become not just a stronger player, but individual in the process.
He told The Yorkshire Post: “To be fair, wIth the players there, there were a few who were probably at the point that I am at now, mentally.
“They were more in tune with themselves and knew what they wanted and were very confident, but self-concentrated.
“It helped me to realise that you can be like that, but a team player at the same time.
“I remember Patrick Vieira saying: ‘Keep your head up’ when I was getting released. That was motivational as well from someone like Patrick.
“The coaches were saying: ‘Make the most of your opportunity’ and Barnsley took me on and built me up and that has been awesome for my learning and the experience has definitely come from being at Barnsley.”
The footballing education of Palmer, who turns 23 at the end of this month, is not yet complete.
Areas of improvement remain, with head coach Markus Schopp having cajoled him to improve his fitness levels further in order to become a more consistent performer.
The Lancastrian has no truck with that advice and just as Schopp is demanding towards him, so he expects certain standards from himself and others and is not afraid to bark out the orders where he sees fit..
He is also the first to accept that he is not a ‘kid’ any more, either.
“I feel like I have come a long way mentally and physically and I am still trying to improve and get better.
“But it’s been great,” added Palmer, who has not looked back since his debut in June, 2020.
“I take the responsibility of being a senior player.
“Even our so-called young players here have experienced things before and have played a lot of games. Everyone is capable of being like that and demanding more from each other. It is a good balance.
“When you are on the pitch, everyone is equal.
“You can play with someone who has played hundreds of league games, but when you are on the pitch, you are a team and I want to demand the most from my team and myself to get results.”
Just as Schopp wants more from Palmer, another integral figure in his development is also someone who will not shy away from giving him some frank advice should it be deemed as appropriate.
He added: “My mum does give me a little bit, to be fair. Although she knows not to speak to me if I know I have had a bad day.
“She knows about that aspect, but she will tell me and won’t sugarcoat anything, that’s for sure.
“The support from my family and my mum especially has been great. Without her, I would not be sat in this position right now and all my credit goes to my mum.”