Scotland Under-21 manager Scot Gemmill says Nathan Patterson boasts the “character and physicality and technical ability” to develop into a key figure for Frank Lampard’s Everton team.
Patterson played four games for Gemmill’s age-group side before promotion to the senior set-up at the age of 19 last year.
The right-back, who swapped boyhood club Rangers for Everton in January, arrived at Goodison Park trailing a reputation as one of his country’s most formidable up-and-coming talents.
Gemmill, an accomplished former Everton midfielder, verified talk of Patterson as a player bursting with potential.
Patterson owns the “emotional intelligence and edge” to succeed at the highest level, insists Gemmill, who expects the 20-year-old Glaswegian – excellent in Everton's pre-season victory at Blackpool on Sunday – to progressively lengthen an already extensive list of qualities.
“Nathan plays with energy and commitment and physicality,” Gemmill told evertonfc.com. “Add his technical level to those attributes and his performances stand out.
“He's always had tremendous athleticism and is quick. And he can repeatedly do it [get up and down the field] over the course of a game.
“Some players fatigue. Nathan can run all day.
“He is a modern defender who can really add to the team’s attack because he is very confident on the ball.
“Nathan can dribble and beat his man and cross and shoot – and do all those things at high speed.
“He confirmed his offensive talent, how effective and influential he can be in attacking areas, in the games he played for Rangers and Scotland.
“And he is a quick learner, so with the manager and coaching staff and senior players Everton have, he is in a tremendous position to push on.”
Patterson attended one of seven designated Scottish FA Performance Schools, Holyrood Secondary in home city Glasgow.
The Scotland coaches privy to Patterson's daily development consistently selected the player in under-age teams, even while Rangers waited for the full-back to add some brawn to a slender frame.
Gemmill originally observed Patterson in the younger national sides and had no doubts he was seeing a footballer with all the makings of a top-level professional.
That view was corroborated working with Patterson first-hand. Indeed, Gemmill’s admiration for the emerging flyer increased after getting to know him at close quarters.
In the unusual position of counting two right-backs among his finest players, Gemmill fielded Harrison Ashby of West Ham United in his strongest position and trusted Patterson to perform on the right of midfield.
Gemmill recalls one game in particular, a European Championship qualifier against Czech Republic, when Patterson dispossessed an opponent high up the field to lay on a goal for ex-Everton striker Fraser Hornby.
“However good you are as a young player, you need to be coachable and willing to play and do your job for the team,” said Gemmill.
“Playing as a right midfielder wouldn’t have been Nathan’s preference but he knew he could help the team.
“In that game against Czech Republic, he stole the ball back and counter-attacked really quickly for the goal and ultimately helped us win the game.
“The Scotland staff coaching him every day had an insight into his character and mentality and temperament and attitude, things he’s really strong on.
“We think he has a real edge to his game, which top players need.
“And he has that side [ability and willingness to adapt] where he can compete at the highest level.
“He has really good emotional intelligence and doesn’t get too up when he does well, nor too down if he doesn’t do so well.
“That edge has always been a big part of his game, he really wants to win and you need that to play with and against the best.
“He wants to get better, he is willing to listen to coaches and learn from the senior players.
“At the same time, he backs himself.
“He has the right mix of humility and confidence, the balance you need.”
Gemmill played 110 games and scored five goals for Everton after joining for a bargain £200,000 fee on transfer deadline day in March 1999.
He stayed for more than five years before joining Leicester City in time for 2004/05.
The 26-cap former Scotland international, then, knows what Evertonians expect from their players and is anticipating Patterson meeting those demands.
Gemmill would be amazed if everything was plain sailing for Patterson, nonetheless. The Premier League, says the 51-year-old, will test his compatriot’s defensive capabilities like never before.
But using the trajectory of Patterson’s embryonic career as a gauge, Gemmill is convinced the player will pass the latest examination of his credentials.
“He’s probably not been tested defensively at Rangers to the extent he will be in the Premier League with Everton,” added Gemmill.
“But he has cleared every hurdle put in front of him, so far: Playing for Rangers, a big club similar to Everton, with huge fan expectation and atmosphere in the stadium and significant history.
“He’s done it for Scotland.
“Not all young players get over those hurdles.
“But up to this point, Nathan has managed to do that and put himself in this position.
“So, of course I would back him to go and confirm himself defensively and show he can succeed in the Premier League, offensively and defensively.
“Evertonians will take to him, I have absolutely no hesitation in that regard.
“He plays with real determination and fearlessness and is still growing and getting stronger.”