Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.

Having spent a few hours in the company of Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on Friday afternoon, I would say that quote describes the man very well.

I was up at the Melwood, Liverpool’s training ground, on a social visit and got to catch up with some old friends.

Some of the club’s biggest names were there, like John Barnes, Mike Marsh and Michael Thomas, plus Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Jamie Carragher.

But it was the time I spent with the Liverpool manager that made my day.

A long-time admirer of Brendan since his time at my old club Chelsea, I came away even more impressed with the man.

Our initial conversation started with me telling him how gutted I was that our paths didn’t cross back in 2009.

Reading had just released me when Brendan took over as their manager from Watford.

He felt the same as me and said he could have done with my ability and experience at the time he took over.

We were in a small group, so the conversation wasn’t all about me, it moved on different subjects, but mainly stayed on football.

Straightaway, he was very open with his answers and chat, despite the fact he was with people he had only just met.

To listen to him talk and answer questions on subjects that were quite private was fascinating. He had grown men hanging on to his every word. Maybe this is the first test of my journalism career, because some of the stories he told would make great headlines, but I wouldn’t and couldn’t betray the trust he showed by being so open in my company.

I found myself thinking how I would have loved to have worked and played for this man.

He spoke about his management style and it ticked every box for me. Honesty and respect are some of his core values when it comes to man management. As simple as it sounds, they are two qualities that not all managers have shown. Brendan told us he likes to get to know his players and find out what makes them tick.

One of his priorities is searching beyond the athlete and finding out about the man.

It all seemed so refreshing to hear. We were invited into his office – another show of trust by him, as it was something he didn’t have to do.

He really opened up in there, and went on to explain his plan for the great club that is Liverpool.

He spoke of the ethos and the expectations that are demanded from each and every person that wears that badge. And not just from the players, his staff also have a responsibility in their role.

At 40 years old (two years older than me), this young manager has a vision, which he had when he first went into coaching 15 or so years ago.

He is now restoring pride into Liverpool FC, creating a culture and doing it his way.

I sat in his office and thought this is a very special guy.

I hope his success this season continues and it isn’t long before he is winning silverware and etching his name alongside some of the great Liverpool managers before him.