Neil Warnock claims Mick McCarthy used to clean his boots - but admits the apprentice has overtaken the master when it comes to Barclays Premier League management.
QPR boss Warnock was a winger at Barnsley in the late 1970s when Wolves counterpart McCarthy came through the ranks. The pair are now both successful managers, but while Warnock forged his reputation as a promotion specialist in the lower leagues and is enjoying only his second top-flight season, McCarthy is fast becoming a top-flight fixture.
"He used to clean my boots when I was a kid," said Warnock, who will pit his wits against the man 10 years his junior at Molineux on Saturday. "He denies it but he was an apprentice at Barnsley with me."
He added: "He was a massive lad in those days. I've never seen anything like it."
Warnock admitted he looked on "with envy" at what McCarthy has achieved at Wolves, who the 52-year-old has twice taken into the Premier League.
After failing to keep them up the first time around, he managed to do so on the final day of last season and has inspired them to an excellent start this term.
Warnock admitted Wanderers were "18 months in front of" his QPR side, who won last year's npower Championship.
"They've had to go through a similar situation that we're going through," he said.
"Mick's moved on a level now and bought top players, I think, your (Kevin) Doyles and that.
"We're not anywhere near that level yet but that's where we want to be, where Wolves are, that next step up."