Former Preston North End manager Simon Grayson has seen his prediction for midfielder Alan Browne become true.
He left his job at Deepdale to move to Sunderland in June 2017 and lasted four months at the Stadium of Light.
Grayson had a successful four-and-a-half years with North End and was the man to bring Browne to the club originally.
After he left, new boss Alex Neil chose to deploy Browne in an advanced midfield role – where he went on to score 12 goals from the following season.
Grayson was back in Lancashire a couple of weeks after his dismissal from Sunderland, when he was quizzed on Browne’s rise at the time and whether he was surprised by it.
“When we worked with him we knew he had all the attributes to be able to get into the box,”
“We always felt he would get better as he got older, he needed to just tidy himself up in terms of decision making and on the ball which has come with experience.
“About two years ago or even longer now I was on the phone to Martin O’Neil about getting him into the Republic of Ireland squad or at least in and around it.
“That’s how strong I felt Browney could – such an energetic lad, six-foot and loves a tackle.
“You’ll certainly see him developing even more over the next few years, you look at him and I think he is going to be the next captain at Preston.”
That is exactly what has happened, with Browne having played over 150 more games for the Lilywhites and established himself as one of Neil’s most trusted players.
He is wearing the arm-band week-in-week-out and most recently, following the sale of Darnell Fisher, has found himself operating as a right wing-back – a position his manager feels he can excel in.
Browne’s performances as of late have been impressive, with his contract situation firmly put to bed.
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On the Irishman penning a new deal last month, Neil said: “He’s transformed, certainly in my first few months, trying to get more than two words out of Alan was extremely difficult and even now five is probably his limit.
“He’s very much a doer, however he does have moments where he can be quite vocal and now that he’s staying, the captain qualities are certainly in there and we will try and get those out of him more and more.
“When you find a club that fits for you, and you’re such a big and important personality at the club, or you have such an influence, what happens is you take the future of the club in your own hands or on your own back if you will.
“Because you know your own individual success and the club’s success are hand-in-hand; I think when you’re there for a long period of time, that’s when that feeling really comes to the fore.
“I think the fact that Alan has stayed – he will be a constant in my time of being here.”