Harry Redknapp lavished praise on Gareth Bale after watching the Tottenham winger almost stage a sensational one-man rescue act in today's Champions League thriller at Inter Milan.
Already one of the hottest young properties in Europe, Bale elevated himself to superstar status with a stunning hat-trick to spare Spurs' blushes at the San Siro.
Bale's exploits were not enough to prevent Tottenham suffering a 4-3 defeat but his goals - especially a stunning solo effort of which Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo would have been proud - meant he ended up stealing the show.
Manager Redknapp said: "He's an amazing young player. He plays left-back, he plays wide left, he scores goals, he can run all day.
"Even first half, he gave the right-back a torrid time, I felt.
"The right-back's one of the best right-backs in the world, possibly."
Spurs rebuffed an approach for Bale before the transfer window closed but it would be no surprise to see an avalanche of mega-money bids for the 21-year-old in January, arguably more than are likely to materialise for Wayne Rooney.
But Redknapp refused to discuss his prize asset's current value, saying: "Tottenham is a club that is looking to progress, not to sell its best players.
"If Tottenham sell Gareth Bale now, it would send out the wrong signals; it would be a club that would be a selling club.
"He's a player that we hope to build a team around. He signed a new contract at the club and, hopefully, he'll be here for a good few years to come.
"If Tottenham progress and become a Champions League team on a regular basis, he'll become a big part of the team."
He added: "You couldn't meet as nice a boy. I think he's happy where he is and he's developing as a player.
"A year ago, he's nowhere near that player that we see now.
"This is where he belongs and this is where he'll progress.
"There's no way that the club would or should contemplate ever selling him at the moment, certainly not in the near future.
"We should be looking to improve the team, not sell when we get an offer for one of our very, very best players."
But even Bale could not mask Spurs' shortcomings as European Champions Inter humiliated them in a merciless first-half assault.
The visitors were 3-0 and a man down inside 14 minutes, goals from Javier Zanetti, a Samuel Eto'o penalty - after Heurelho Gomes had been sent off - and Dejan Stankovic doing the damage, with Eto'o adding a fourth before the break.
Redknapp admitted praying the game would end at that stage but ended up hoping it would continue after Bale struck in the 90th and 91st minutes.
"At half-time, we'd have all gone home at 4-0 for sure," he said.
"You could just see more damage coming second half.
"It was like your worst nightmare.
"Second half, we stayed with two wide men, stayed with one up front and Gareth Bale turned in an amazing second-half performance."
Tottenham have now conceded eight goals in their three Champions League away games and tonight's match was almost a carbon copy of their qualifying defeat at Young Boys, in which they fell 3-0 down before recovering to lose 3-2.
He said: "We didn't defend well. We were looking to play offside at times, with no pressure on the ball, and we struggled.
"Suddenly you find yourself two goals down, the goalie's been sent off.
"It's a very, very difficult next 85 minutes when you start like that.
"Second half, we steadied the ship, we hung in there.
"To get the three goals gave us a bit of a lift in the end."
Gomes was unhappy with his sending-off, according to Redknapp.
"He felt it was harsh; he didn't feel he should have been sent off," the Spurs boss said.
Redknapp was relieved the other game in the group - between FC Twente and Werder Bremen - ended in a draw, meaning Spurs stay second, two points clear of third.
He added: "Didn't do too much damage in the end tonight."
Inter manager Rafael Benitez also applauded Bale's performance but felt his own side made it easier for the winger by switching off in the second half.
Side-stepping a question about whether he would be interested in signing Bale, the former Liverpool boss said: "He's a good player; we knew before, we know now.
"He played really well.
"We gave to them much space, we made too many mistakes, but he was doing really well."
Benitez added: "The first half, we were playing really well.
"The second half, we were a little bit relaxed; we made too many mistakes.
"They played good counter-attack and we paid for this."