Twelve months ago, Geoffrey Kondogbia was running around the French Second Division and mulling over an offer from Reading.
Today, the 20 year-old Sevilla midfielder has the game's biggest clubs jostling for his signature. Real Madrid and Manchester City are in direct contact with his club and his representatives about a move this summer.
Standing at 1.9m and with an engine that runs all day, Kondogbia has been likened to Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira and regarded in the same class as Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba - though without the baggage, as Manchester United discovered last year.
"In addition to his power, which comes from nature, he is very technical and quick thinking on the pass."
Another former Lens teammate, Alexandre Coeff, upon hearing of Kondogbia agreeing to join Sevilla, remarked: "When presented with the opportunity to play in Spain, I know he would not have thought twice. I know him well and know that he will succeed at Sevilla."
The praise from teammates is no surprise when considering Kondogbia's commitment to his profession. For six years at Lens, his days were filled with training and playing for the Ligue 2 club. Back and forth, day after day, home, then training at Lens, then back home to rest. His teenage years were purely football, football, football.
And this hasn't changed with his move to Spain. It was an ambition for Kondogbia to try his hand in the La Liga and while there were offers from Reading and Juventus last summer, when unfashionable Seville came calling he , as Coeff says, "didn't think twice".
"It is true that there were more offers, but I just wanted to play for Sevilla. It was the club that made their interest clear in signing me," said Kondogbia, whose transfer is a credit to the determination of Sevilla chief scout Victor Orta and sports director Monchi.
"And I knew that from the game here that I could come in handy.
"The difference regarding football in France? Here everything is faster, but playing at a high pace can create problems. Football in France is where more physical strength matters a lot."
He left Lens only with their best wishes. Coaching staff always knew their protégé was destined for bigger things.
His youth coach at Lens, Bijotat Olivier, declared: "He has a high level of play, he is a vacuum; excels in recovering the ball and often wins his clashes with opponents. He's technically good on his left foot, can play short and long, retrieve and distribute."
Lens sports director Georges Tournay added: "His football intelligence is above average."
Sevilla haven't actually paid a euro for Kondogbia, with his deal being brokered by investment firm, Doyen Group, which also brought the likes of Alvaro Negredo and Baba Diawara to the club.
His contract carries a €20 million buyout clause, but terms with Doyen mean Sevilla must negotiate with any interested club tabling €8 million or more for the midfielder. Real Madrid have already met this price, while City are willing to go higher.
Those close to Kondogbia believe just like Lens, Sevilla will find themselves a stepping stone to bigger things for the 20 year-old.
Kondogbia's older brother, Evans, plays his football in Belgium with RFC Liège and is Geoffrey's biggest fan.
"He's a boy, only 19, and most importantly, he can improve a lot. Little by little they will be seeing his true level," enthuses Evans. "I do not think we've seen the player who he can be .... They will soon see more improvement."