A key skill of management, at least in the days before directors of football and Wyscout, was the ability to spot a player.

Since moving into the dugout after his own playing career, John Hughes would argue he has shown he has a shrewd eye for raw talent, but even he admits he can’t take much credit for realising that Ryan Christie was something special.

In fact, the man affectionately known as ‘Yogi’ throughout the Scottish game says it was self-evident from the first time he stumbled across Christie in the Inverness youth ranks that he was better than the average player.

Even still, he swells with pride to have played at least some small part in the blossoming of a young man who now, at the age of 25, is showing all of the qualities for Celtic that Hughes saw in him that day years ago, when he stood head and shoulders above his peers.

“The first time I saw him, it was a case of ‘oh oh, wow’,” Hughes said.

“I always try to look at the kids and see what is coming through, and from the first minute, he just stood out.

“Everything you see that he has today, his natural enthusiasm, his work ethic, his technical ability, his passing range, it was evident straight away. I put him straight in with the first team and he never looked back.

“The boys looked after him at first, because he was still finding his way, but there was no question that he was ready for it.

“The intensity and the standard of training was so high, and the boys would get stuck into him. We would referee it and we would never give him a free-kick, never. He would just pick himself up and start laughing, and away he would go again.

“He’s not a shrinking violet by the way, he’ll stand up for himself. But he’s magnificent in that number 10 role, he knows how to pick up those pockets.

“If you fire it into him, he’ll be on that half turn and he’ll be right at you, either getting a positive pass away or getting a shot away.

“He’s just a gem. Anything he gets, he deserves. As a manager, he is no problem. He even used to call you sir, and he looks you in the eye when you’re talking to him.

“As a coach, he’s a dream too, because he gets it. As soon as you tell him something, he’s got it. He’s very clever and he understands tactics and what is required.

“I’m only delighted I played a small part in his development. I still keep in touch with him, I’m always on the text after I watch him play.

"Any manager could see what he had, he stood out like a sore thumb.”

The real kudos for where Christie has got to in his career so far belongs to his father, Charlie, according to Hughes. Christie Senior was of course a Celtic player himself, although he never managed to make an impression on the first team.

“I’ve said this all along, Charlie deserves all the credit, because he must have put in a hell of an amount of work with him,” he said. “Not just as a footballer, because the natural talent was there, but as a human being.

“He’s so humble. When I put him in the first team, he stayed in the kids’ changing room with all his mates. He didn’t move up until the next year, and he wanted to stay with the boys.

“He’s a great lad. I couldn’t speak highly enough of him. He’s a great, great human being, one of these guys that deserves everything he’s getting.

“I said to him what I expected him to do in the game, and he just said; ‘give me the chance’. As soon as I did, I just couldn’t leave the kid out.

“When we went to the bigger stages, he loved it, he absolutely loved it. He would think ‘this is a bit of me’, and he would want to show what he could do.

“We went down to Birmingham one pre-season and wee Lee Clarke was the manager, he was trying to buy him straight after the game. He made an enquiry about him on the Monday, but if it was anything in Scotland it was going to be Celtic.

“They are a great match, so I just wish him all the best.”

The move to Celtic may therefore have seemed pre-ordained, but Hughes says the real reflection of Christie’s character lies not in the story of how he got there, but in how he fought to establish himself once he arrived.

“I remember we were playing Celtic at Parkhead one day and I used to always have a go at them,” Hughes recalled.

“On this day, I decided we were going to sit in and try to counter them in the first half.

“John Collins and Ronny Deila were in charge, and John was at me constantly about Ryan. He knew all about him, but I said to him he would see here what he was about.

“I pulled Ryan aside because I had so much trust in him, told him the plan and that no matter what, he would be going on at half-time and the stage was his.

“I told him that Celtic were sniffing about him, and that was clearly a motivation for him as well.

“We got beat 4-2, but he went out in the second half and was outstanding. He lit it up. I came in after the game and Collins said he didn’t even have to go in and speak to Ronny about him. In the next couple of weeks, the deal was done.

“It was a wee bit of a surprise to me that when he first went there, he never quite got that chance, and he had to go out a couple of times to Aberdeen.

“I think it was Brendan Rodgers that gave him the go and took to him, and Neil Lennon loves him.

“He has real strength of character and that was shown by the way he bounced back from the serious facial injury he had. Apart from just the injury alone, the mental and psychological impact of it is huge too.

“For him to get back to where he is now is all credit to him. That just tells you the character in him.

“He wants to be the best player he can be. He doesn’t want to hold nothing back and have regrets at the end of his career, that’s the kind of attitude that he’s got.”