Rotherham United tomorrow come face to face with the striker manager Steve Evans sold despite believing he had the quality to play in the top flight.
Hot-shot Lewis Grabban lies in wait for the Millers at Carrow Road with his club, Norwich City, topping the Championship table.
Grabban scored 21 goals in 43 starts for Rotherham, but Evans sold him to Bournemouth soon after being appointed manager
“I worked with him briefly and sold him. We ended up with a good deal for us out of that,” Evans said.
“I thought he was a very talented boy. I desperately tried to keep him here.
“But he had some family circumstances which meant he wanted to be in the south and he came and asked me if we could help address that and let him go.
“I said to Bournemouth when we sold him ‘this boy could go to the Premier League’.
“I’m the same with any player. It doesn’t matter if you’re Lewis Grabban or Messi. If they don’t want to be around then you’re better off without them.
“We got a fantastic offer from Bournemouth and we got a fantastic sell-on when he made his move to Norwich. That deal netted us probably close to a million pounds at the end of the day. It was good business if you’re Rotherham United.”
Grabban joined the Cherries for a fee thought to be around £300,000 and scored 35 goals in 82 starts.
He had a £3 million release clause in his contract, and in pre-season joined the Canaries for whom he has scored six times in his first 10 appearances.
Evans added: “He’s a tremendous young man. I still keep in touch with him. I promised I’d text him every time he scored and last season it seemed I was texting him every Saturday night!
“We said with Jordan Rhodes against Blackburn Rovers in midweek we hoped he went home pointless and goalless and we’re hope Lewis leaves Carrow Road pointless and goalless on Saturday night. That could mean it’s been a good day for the Millers.
“He can play wide on either side, he can play down the middle or as a second striker. I’m not going to build him up to be Pele, but I think he’s a wonderful talent.”
The Millers head to Carrow Road buoyed by an impressive display and a 2-0 home win over Blackburn on Tuesday night.
But Evans is under no illusions about the size of the task facing his men against a team he expects to finish the season on top of the pile.
“I don’t think you would find to many managers in the Championship who would disagree with the prediction of Norwich as champions,” he said.
“When you look at the quality they’ve got for each position and the back-up they’ve got ... Gary Hooper, who I think is just an exceptional striker, has just come back from injury and Norwich sit top of the league.
“They can play the likes of Cameron Jerome and Lewis. Neil Adams must be given a lot of credit for putting that squad in place. They’re one hell of a side. It’s the quality of their play, the fighting spirit, the tenacity.
“They lost in midweek to Charlton but I watched a full DVD of the match and it really was a robbery that took place. I thought Norwich were outstanding from start to finish. Eight or nine good chances and probably 65-70 per cent possession of the ball. We’ll go there and face a reaction.”
Centre-half Kirk Broadfoot misses out for the Millers with a twisted ankle, but midfield man Richie Smallwood trained yesterday after a tight hamstring.
“Subject to no after-effects, he’ll be on the coach to Norwich,” Evans confirmed.