Richard Shaw was a youth team coach of the Red Devils new boy in the Eagles academy and helped to turn him into the player he is today
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is now a £50 million ($62m) right-back at Manchester United, but his former coach at Crystal Palace admits a man with “go-go-gadget legs” was not always earmarked for that role.
Richard Shaw, an Eagles legend who now works within the club’s academy system, is among those to have helped the exciting 21-year-old to this stage of his career.
Those at Old Trafford have invested heavily in his potential, with his early displays for the Red Devils suggesting that they have made the right call despite questions being asked of the fee they paid for a player with only one full year of senior experience to his name.
Shaw, though, has been convinced for some time that Wan-Bissaka was destined for the top, with the youngster having passed every sporting test asked of him.
He had been looking to catch the eye as a midfielder in his younger years, but transferred the skills he learned in that area of the field to become one of the most highly-rated defenders in English football.
“It’s well known that Az wasn’t always a right-back,” Shaw told the latest instalment of United’s ‘Unscripted’ series.
“I used him as a winger on either side, and even then, at 16, he had wonderful defensive responsibility – it was just his end product we were trying to work on.
“He was a great defensive midfield player too. He had these long legs, so when you think you’ve got past him, he’d tackle you when you thought you’d gotten away. It was absolutely incredible. These go-go-gadget legs come from nowhere, just when you think you’ve got past him. Bang. He’s got you.
“Like any club, we’d send the boys up to train with the first team, so Azza had been training in and around the seniors for about a year before what turned out to be a pivotal day in his career.
“He was up against Wilf Zaha and Andros Townsend, two horribly tricky, fast, tough opponents, but he did absolutely brilliantly. People have spoken publicly about how impressive Azza was in that session.
“Afterwards, Kevin Keen, who had been taking training, came up to me and Dave to chat about Aaron and suggested that we try playing him at full-back.
“We had a cup of tea and a discussion, and we played Aaron at right-back against Charlton in our next game.”