Former Sevilla striker Freddie Kanoute says Jesus Navas was a ‘machine’ during the time they played together at the Andalusian club.
The pair were team-mates for seven years during which Sevilla earned a reputation as cup specialists, securing six trophies in the space of four years domestically and in Europe.
Kanoute, who was a close friend of Navas, says he is proud of the City star who conquered the anxiety attacks that threatened to stifle his club and international career.
“I considered Jesus as my little brother,” said Kanoute, who also enjoyed successful spells with Tottenham and West Ham.
“He is a really nice guy but very shy and I took him under my wing at Sevilla and tried to encourage him as well as build his confidence.
“We got along very well on and off the field and we were similar in a number of ways so I’m really happy he is doing well at City and looking forward to seeing him on Wednesday.
“He had anxiety problems so what he has achieved to get over this problem is fantastic. I remember he wasn’t selected for Spain when he could have been because of these issues.
“It took a lot of guts to overcome these problems and I’m really happy that he did because he could have looked back in future years and regretted not being able to play for Spain because of travelling problems.
“He went to the World Cup in South Africa which really helped and because he is so close to his family and came from a small village close to Sevilla, I never imagined he’d up playing in the north of England. It’s a great personal achievement for him.
“Jesus is really well respected at Sevilla. We called him ‘El Nino’ which means ‘the kid’ because he started with the first team at a very young age. He’s a pure in-house product of the Sevilla youth system where he grew as a player.
“Along with Sergio Ramos and Jose Antonio Reyes, he is an example of how good the Sevilla academy system is.
“He had a lot of respect from the fans when he was there. To me he was a machine because he delivered the same kind of quality week in, week out and could run all day long.
“The day after a match we were all so tired and doing some recovery work but he just wanted to train with the other guys who hadn’t played so his fitness levels were incredible.”
Kanoute believes Sevilla will make their mark in the Champions League, though it could take some time.
“I think the step they have to overcome is to progress past the Round of 16 stage, but because Sevilla don’t have the resources of some of the bigger European sides, it’s not that easy,” he said.
“Everything is possible and just because you don’t have the biggest financial backing, doesn’t mean to say you can’t still do well – look at Atletico Madrid and Valencia – and that’s what I hope for Sevilla.
“I don’t think they can win the Champions League anytime soon, but I think they could make the final four in years to come.”