Arsene Wenger always felt Roy Keane had the right "ingredients" to make a successful manager - and maintains it will not be long before some of his Arsenal old boys make an impression in the dugout.
Sunderland boss Keane, 37, is one of several former Manchester United players to have made a successful cross-over into management - with Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Steve Bruce all currently making their way in the Barclays Premier League.
Having learned under one of the games' all-time greats in Sir Alex Ferguson, Wenger believes the likes of Keane can go on to make a success as a coach at the top level.
"He has done well in his first year. You see already when he was a player that there are ingredients in there that make a manager," said Wenger, whose men travel to the Stadium of Light tomorrow.
"A management career is a marathon, but he has the qualities to become a great manager."
While men such as former captains Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry remain active, there are some members of Wenger's all-conquering squad from the turn of the century to have already made a step into management.
Former captain Tony Adams is currently assistant at Portsmouth having helped guide them to FA Cup glory last season, while Harry Redknapp's predecessor at Fratton Park, Alain Perrin, the former Lyon manager, worked with Wenger at AS Nancy.
The Arsenal boss feels it is only a matter of time before there will be one of his old Gunners in a Premier League hot-seat.
"There are a few already working in France, and while there is no-one in England yet, some of them are very close," he said.
"We have Tony Adams who is assistant at Portsmouth and Nigel Winterburn is coaching at Blackburn. Steve Bould is an important coach here in the Arsenal academy.
"Dennis Bergkamp is taking his coaching badges to go into the job and the rest are very young."
Wenger has revolutionised Arsenal since his arrival in September 1998, transforming the culture of the club both on and off the field.
The Gunners boss believes it is a pre-requisite part of a coach's role to leave a lasting impression on the men under his charge.
"The fact that you had players and gave them a taste to be managers is always a big satisfaction," said Wenger.
"The manager is a strong guide inside the club for the players.
"You want your philosophy to survive from generation to generation, for every player to have his own character and personality which in turn brings a little bit of something you feel is important to those coming next."
Sunderland have thrived under Keane, who took charge at the Stadium of Light during August 2006 when the club were struggling at the foot of the Coca-Cola Championship.
It was something of a gamble by Niall Quinn - a former Ireland team-mate whose consortium had mounted a successful takeover - but one which paid off handsomely following an immediate promotion back to the top flight.
In what is his first managerial post since leaving Celtic, Keane - thanks in no small part to some heavy investment for team building - went on to consolidate Sunderland's place among the elite clubs and now has his sights set on climbing the table rather than just surviving another relegation scrap.
During his sometimes controversial playing career at United, the former Republic of Ireland skipper had many a run-in with his opposite number at the Gunners, Vieira, as the two clubs battled for Premier League supremacy.
Wenger believes such tenacity will have helped set up Keane for the new challenges ahead across the other side of the white line.
"It does not surprise me at all that he had a good first season because he has played for a long time at the top level," the Arsenal manager said.
"After that it is down to stamina in the motivation - stamina to get over the disappointment because a career unfortunately is not only about carrying trophies.
"It is about being able to be motivated and to fight every day, to get over big disappointments and continue with exactly the same strength and power."