"That gave me some belief. Kenny speaks to me every day, and I find that having someone like that putting confidence in me makes me want to go out there every game and prove his judgement correct," he told the Mirror.
"When I came into the first team squad at the beginning, I was star-struck - I didn't even want to say hello to Steven Gerrard because he was who he was and was someone who I looked up to so much.
"There were the likes of him, Xabi Alonso, Mascherano, Lucas - all world class talents. When you first join that, you don't want to say anything to them, even though you've got to ask for the ball, you think, 'I can't shout at him!'
"You've got to adapt though, because the aim is to get to their level and play alongside them.
"You can't be star-struck for too long, otherwise you won't make it.
"I looked at them, and I thought, 'What puts them above me? What can I take from them that will get me there?' I am still doing that."