The day I had to confiscate Scotland ace’s ball!

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IAN Stevenson vividly remembers the one time he had to confiscate Barry Bannan’s ball.

A Lenzie YC keepy-uppy competition had long ceased apart from the gallus little boy with strawberry blonde hair for whom keeping a football under control was the most natural thing on earth.

Ian, president and founder of Lenzie YC, said: “It was just getting ridiculous. He was up to about 600 or 700 with no sign of stopping and we were just losing count.

“We just had to ask him to stop.”

After the midfield magician’s man-of-the-match Euro 2012 qualifying display against Lithuania at Hampden earlier this month, it’s a safe bet the bamboozled Baltic country’s midfield wished it was that simple.

A similarly impressive showing for Scotland last year against the Faroe Islands saw national boss Craig Levein declare Aston Villa star Bannan (21) “the future” of Scottish football.

Ian could have told anyone that years ago.

Bannan’s association with Lenzie began at the age of 10, when Bannan’s dad was so impressed with the Lenzie Youth set-up he asked the club to take Barry on - despite him living half-an-hour away in Airdrie.

Ian said: “Barry was with us from the age of 10 to 15, when he moved directly down to Aston Villa.

“Neither his mum or dad drive so I went to pick him and two or three other boys from that area up for training and matches.

“Boy was it worth it. He played off the front for us, in a traditional number 10 position and he scored a lot of goals.

“He was very, very skilful - full of ability - and a lot of teams came to see him, like Manchester United, but they seemed to think he was too wee.”

Ian, however, knew otherwise.

He said: “Barry plays for Scotland the way he used to play with us.

“He always wants the ball, always wants to show what he can do with it, he’s got such enthusiasm for the game.

“He’s a character as well, he’s not a quite boy.

“Barry’s confident and believes in his ability - he’s a gallus wee guy, in fact there’s more stories I can’t tell about him than I can!

It’s very much a mutual appreciation society between Bannan and Lenzie YC.

He has never forgotten his former boys’ club and is looking forward to spending time catching up with Ian and his 1997s Lenzie side at Villa Park later next month when they travel down to watch him in Premier League action against West Bromwich Albion.

Before then, Bannan has his sights set on Scotland’s crucial upcoming Euro 2012 qualifying matches versus Liechtenstein and Spain.

Barry told Herald Sport: “I probably still act like a 13-year-old boy when it comes to football as I look forward to playing so much.

“I believe that’s a bonus for my game. Getting the ovation against Lithuania was a dream come true and hopefully with my performance I’ve done enough to start the next games.”