Norwich City’s Robert Snodgrass has realised his talent, says ex-boss Allan Preston

One of Robert Snodgrass' former managers has painted a far from rosy picture of the City midfielder's past – but says the future is bright for the Canaries summer signing.

Allan Preston, who was in charge of Scottish side Livingston boss when Snodgrass was a rising star, says he worried that off-field behaviour would see what he described as a 'God-given' talent wasted.

'Robert had unbelievable natural ability, you could see he was going to be a player,' Preston said in an interview with The Scotsman.

'I remember in his first couple of games he played against Dunfermline, cut in from the right and let fly with his left foot and the ball flew into the top corner of the net. You could see what a special talent he was.

'He was very highly thought of at Livingston.

'He was the jewel in the crown, but the problem was the off-the-field stuff.

'You'd say to him he had to behave as a professional, but he was 17, a young boy with a fair amount of money and as young boys are wont to do, he wanted to get out, have a laugh, party, drink...

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'He would miss training, but once you got him out there he was brilliant, fantastic, a youngster with great ability who loved playing football.

'His right foot isn't bad at all, but his left foot is God-given. You don't like to see that ability go to waste, but I was worried and when John Robertson, as manager, put him out on loan to Stirling Albion, I did wonder, 'is that it?'.

'But he came back, screwed the nut and has realised that gift.'

Snodgrass left Livingston, where he also played under former Norwich City manager Paul Lambert, to join Leeds United in July 2008, before moving up from the Championship to the Premier League with City this summer.

Now Preston believes Snodgrass can play a major role for Craig Levein's Scotland squad in their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

However, Preston is also convinced that bigger things lie ahead for Snodgrass – away from Carrow Road.

'I think the better the opposition, the better Robert plays,' he said. 'He can go on and play at any level he wants. No disrespect to Norwich, they are a well run club but I'm sure he can go on again and it wouldn't surprise me if a top six or top eight club come in sometime with an offer Norwich can't refuse.

'His performance against Spurs at the weekend was nothing short of incredible, capped off by a fantastic goal. There's no doubt he can be an important player for Craig Levein.'