"At the time, you just go along with the ride. It's only afterwards that you think, how did this happen, how did that happen? Smudge (Alan Smith) was an inspiration to all of us because he did what we all aspired to, he came through the system to play in the first team for his hometown club. It doesn't get much better than that," Milner told the Sunday Telegraph.
"It was funny to end up playing alongside him but when I first stepped up to the reserves, I looked round to see David Batty on one side of me and Olivier Dacourt on the other. You had to pinch yourself sometimes but it's all about learning from big players. It's easy for youngsters to play one or two games and then lose their heads, get excited and get ahead of themselves. That can be the difference between playing at the top for 10 or 15 years and going out of the game after a couple of games because you think you've made it."