By Tom Blackburn
Ross Barkley paid tribute to legendary Everton scout Sid Benson following his death.
Benson, 74, died on Wednesday evening and was largely responsible for discovering Barkley, Wayne Rooney, Francis Jeffers and many others.
Barkley, 22, took to Twitter to say he had remained in close contact with Benson, and spoke to him the night before he died.
Benson discovered Barkley as an 11-year-old, playing in a higher age group of a local Sunday league.
He immediately signed him for Everton and the youngster shone throughout his time in the academy, before being given his Toffees debut aged 17 when he played 90 minutes against QPR in the Premier League.
The attacking midfielder has since gone on to play 141 times for the Merseyside giants, scoring 22 goals and adding a further 20 assists.
His form for Everton earned him a call up to the England side and he has played 22 times, but he was left on the bench for all four games as the national side failed to reach the Euro 2016 quarter-finals this summer.
Francis Jeffers also took to Twitter to describe the sadness he felt by the passing, and thanked him for all his help.
Jeffers came through the Everton system in 1997 and shone for them before completing a £13million move to Arsenal, before having a career plagued with injury.
In other Everton news, they are interested as Liverpool eye 30-times-capped Holland international.