Crystal Palace academy director Gary Issott admits Aaron Wan-Bissaka was almost cut loose as a junior player.
The player was a revelation for Palace as they surged up the table in the second-half of the season.
"Aaron [Wan-Bissaka] - he divided opinion among the coaching staff at 14 and whether or not we should extend his stay at the club, and I remember his headteacher at his school, Peter Yates, telling me, 'you can't let this player go, he is a really good player'," he told Palace TV.
"He likened him to Wilf [Zaha] and we kept him, and really from 15, 16 onwards he really went from strength to strength.
"And he has done unbelievable to get to where he has got to so far."
Issott added: "We've got 40 scouts around London trawling trying to find players from nine to 16, and it is one of the most important components of the academy, player recruitment.
"They have helped build those sides to the level where they're able to go and win leagues."