Chris Smalling says he will be forever indebted to Roy Hodgson and insists his dream move to Old Trafford wouldn't have happened without the former Fulham manager.
The young defender has enjoyed a meteoric rise through football's ranks, having been plucked from the relative obscurity of Maidstone United by Hodgson before signing for United in 2010.
And speaking ahead of the Reds' trip to Craven Cottage on Wednesday, Smalling expressed his gratitude towards the current West Brom boss and explained why he’s excited to face his old club.
"I see my time there as a big two years," he told ManUtd.com and PA Sport. "My first year was about finding my feet and the second was about showcasing what I can do.
"Without Roy Hodgson giving me my chance there I wouldn't be here so it's a time I look upon fondly. It'll be nice to go and see a few of the players and play back at the Cottage."
Smalling's arrival at United was at first considered a move for the future, however, the England international proved to be an instant success, making 33 appearances during his inaugural campaign.
The central defender, currently flourishing at right-back, is hoping to use his newfound first-team experience throughout the Christmas period.
"The players always look forward to this time of year with plenty of games," he added. We're used to the demands and it’s a big opportunity to pick up a lot of points - we want to get maximum points.
"Christmas can be a hindrance on some and can sometimes make or break you in terms of kicking on, but this is a period where we really need to kick on and show everybody we mean business."
The Reds kick off the festive season against Fulham before hosting two north-west derbies against Wigan and Blackburn at Old Trafford on Boxing Day and New Year's Eve respectively, closely followed by a trip to Newcastle on 4 January.