Ashley Young's emergence as a major influence with Fabio Capello's England showed the livewire forward is made for the big stage.
Having unluckily missed out on the 2010 World Cup squad with Shaun Wright-Phillips getting the nod instead, his stock grew to such an extent that there was a minor outcry when he was only on the bench for June's Euro 2012 qualifier with Switzerland. As if to ram home his point, he scored a superb equaliser in the Wembley clash and picked up the man-of-the-match award for his 45 minutes' work.
By then, Sir Alex Ferguson's mind had been made up and a deal was announced with Aston Villa later in the month as the former Watford winger only had a year left on his contract with the Midlanders.
Young's career has been on a steadily upward curve after suffering the blow of being on the brink of being released as a youngster at Vicarage Road. He showed great courage and tenacity to force the Hornets to change their mind, and prove them hopelessly wrong, and became subject of a bidding war - eventually won by Villa in 2007.
The fee, rising to almost £10million, was declared far too steep by those supposedly in the know but it soon started looking like a bargain. Flourishing at Villa Park, he won the 2009 PFA Young Player of the Year award and was declared 'world class' by manager Martin O'Neill after one sensational performance against Everton.
After fulfilling his potential with Villa, a World Cup place seemed a certainty only for coach Capello to look elsewhere but the player's response - as to his early setback at Watford - shows he has character in abundance. Earning a more responsibility in a central attacking role, he racked up the assists and goals in his final campaign for the Midlanders and was one of the Premier League's most productive performers.
By signalling his desire to make the step up to Champions League football and deciding not to sign a new deal, it became obvious that he would move on with several top clubs keen on his signature. United pushed hard to land their target to hand him the bigger stage he craves.
The man who famously went to school with Lewis Hamilton in Stevenage is now firmly in football's fast lane.