Stuart Pearce feels Roy Keane "always had something about him" even as far back as their time together at Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest in the early 1990s.
The former England left back was speaking at Off The Ball's Vicar Street Roadshow and he shared his early impressions of the former Ireland and Manchester United captain.
"I was injured at the time. Roy signed for the club. On a Tuesday night, Forest played Liverpool. Wednesday morning I come in and walked into the physios room and asked 'How did the game go last night?' And they said to me, 'Yeah it was alright,'" he said.
"The physio said 'Roy Keane played last night on the right wing'. I went, 'Where was Houghton? He plays on the right wing'. I thought he was talking about Liverpool. I'd never even met him before he made his debut because I was injured.
England left-back Stuart Pearce celebrates after scoring in the penalty shoot-out to decide the Euro '96 clash between England and Spain at Wembley. Sean Dempsey/PA Archive/PA Images
"He just came in on the Monday, played on the Tuesday. Cloughie just threw him straight into the team. He always had something about him. He was always a strong character, even as a kid. Bear in mind, I was 28 and he was 18 when he came through the door but by the time he'd spent 2-3 years at the club , whatever position you played him, he was the best player. He used to play central defence, central midfield... wherever you wanted to play him, he was like the best kid at school. He could play anywhere. Fantastic!"
Pearce continued: "[Keane] always had an edge to him even as a youngster. I think when you've got that little bit of something about you, whether it be a little bit of nastiness or whatever it may be, you're probably always over-achieving in the game. He always had that edge about him as a kid and he grew into it over his career."
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) June 7, 2017
Pearce also discussed his route from non-league football, having aspired to join the police force and army as a youth but having found no real direction by the time he reached the age of 16, before leaving Wealdstone for top flight Coventry City after being scouted in 1983.
Yet even when he had joined Clough's Nottingham Forest just two years later, he still maintained an electrician business and even advertised his services in the Forest match programme as he explained on the show.
Pearce also recalled the memories of his England career which saw him miss a penalty in the shootout against West Germany at Italia 90, and how he earned personal redemption six years later at Euro 96.