Liverpool star James Milner praised by former Leeds team-mate Paul Robinson… calling him 'ahead of his time'

That is the verdict of Paul Robinson, who was in goal for Leeds on the day in November 2002 when Milner made his senior debut at the age of 16.

Robinson, 38, said: “Back when he was breaking through, there were levels of sports science, levels of looking for that extra little bit that would give you the edge, but it was unlike today.

“Now you have to live, sleep and breathe football. Your body, your diet, everything like that, has to be absolutely A1.

“Whereas James was like that years and years ago when it was probably less apparent. He was almost ahead of his time.

“The way he has looked after himself is why he is still playing at the level he is and is such an integral part of a Liverpool team that is doing so well.

“They’ve spent millions of pounds, yet he finds himself captain and playing every week. It’s no coincidence.

“It’s down to looking after yourself, down to the way you live your life and your dedication to the game.

“It was his temperament, more than anything, that stood out. Even at that age, he realised nothing was given to you, nothing was going to be easy.

“He would be one of the first in the gym in the morning and the last one to leave.

"From what I gather, his dedication is still exactly the same. He made sure he maximised everything he had and gave himself every single opportunity.

“James has always done that and it’s a credit to him to be where he is now.”

Milner is 32 yet he leads not only his Liverpool team-mates but every player in the Premier League when it comes to distance covered per 90 minutes played.

The former Aston Villa, Newcastle and Manchester City star spent the best part of a season filling in at left-back but is now the heartbeat of the title-chasing Reds’ midfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s men host City this afternoon and Milner outscores Fernandinho, the closest thing his former club have to an equivalent player, in six key categories.

Robinson says Milner’s all-round ability and outstanding temperament stood out from the start.

The ex-England keeper, now a pundit for beIN’s coverage of the Premier League and Nations League, said: “You wouldn’t have seen him and gone, ‘Wow, there’s the new Paul Gascoigne,’ or anything.

“He was one of those players with all-round talent. You couldn’t say he was a great dribbler or a great finisher.

"He had a good left foot, good right foot, he was good in the air.

“He could play in any position. If your left-back wasn’t fit, he could do a job there, as he proved at Liverpool.

“He could play right wing. He could play at centre-forward.”

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