While Romelu Lukaku was helping Belgium to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia last summer, Luke Shaw was in New York trying to get his Manchester United career back on track.
The left-back had suffered four frustrating seasons at the club, never making more than 16 Premier League appearances in a campaign as he battled horror injuries and some tough love from Jose Mourinho.
But when Lukaku started receiving video messages showing Shaw working away in the United States, he sensed United were going to see a very different left-back this season.
His performance in the goalless draw against Liverpool on Sunday was perhaps his best of the season so far and Shaw has been one of United’s standout performers this term.
“He has been brilliant since the start of the season,” Lukaku said of the 23-year-old.
“Throughout the summer we kept in touch and I remember when he was in New York he was sending me videos of him running on the treadmill. I was in Russia for the World Cup and I got three videos and I saw someone who was going to come back and be good.
“He scored in the first game of the season against Leicester City and he has never looked back. He can play two games in a week now.”
When United spent £30million on Shaw in June 2014 they were signing one of the most promising left-backs in the game after his breakthrough at Southampton.
His time at Old Trafford hasn’t run smoothly, but Lukaku is confident his friend is back to his best now.
“He has always had the potential of being one of the best left backs in the world,” the Belgian said.
“From the time when I sued to play against him when he was at Southampton to now, he has had his injuries but he’s playing regularly now and I am really happy for him. I hope he is going to keep on delivering now.
“You cannot look at Luke as a prospect now, at his age he is a top player and is consistent. What more do you want from him.”