He told The Sun: “We had good scouting reports of him from Steve Rowley. There were a few top clubs interested in Rob at the time.
“But when Steve sees someone he likes and gets his claws in, he will rarely let go until he gets what he wants. He likes a good battle for a player.
“Rob was very highly regarded by Steve and he ranked him right up there with his other finds like Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Gael Clichy.
“We instantly saw Rob's qualities, and as Arsene Wenger would always do, if he sees something in you then you are in and away you go. As soon as he walked through the door he looked like a proper centre-back but he could play as well.
“When he first joined he was a bit frail in his actual physique, but he always competed in training against guys much bigger than him and that's what we loved about him."
Banfield, who is now first-team coach at QPR, said: “Now he has filled out, but he isn't all brawn and no brains. He is so inquisitive.
“He would pester Steve Bould constantly to learn off him. He would always ask about opposition players."
“And once he gets that run, he should be pushing for an England call-up. It is just up to him whether he takes that chance."