LONDON • Tony Pulis will never live down his put-down of Serge Gnabry, but the former manager manned up when he admitted that it has been "absolutely amazing" to watch the player he said was not good enough for West Bromwich emerge as a major player for both club and country.
In 2015, Arsenal allowed the Germany winger to go on loan at West Brom, only for Pulis to label him as "not at the level" to play for the club and he made only one Premier League appearance in six months before the deal was cut short.
The following summer, after helping Die Mannschaft to the 2016 Rio Games silver medal and finishing as the joint top scorer with six goals, the Gunners sold him to Bundesliga club Werder Bremen for only £5 million (S$8.4 million).
His rise has been meteoric since. He earned a big move to Bayern Munich a year later and, though he had to spend one season on loan at Hoffenheim, he had already established himself as one of the league's best players by the time he was presented at the Allianz Arena last July.
Gnabry has taken his game to the next level after joining Bayern, with Germany coach Joachim Low vowing that the club's Player of the Year "will always play under me" following nine strikes in his past 10 international appearances.
On Tuesday night, he returned to north London for the first time since leaving the Emirates, tormenting Tottenham with a four-goal display of pace, power and panache.
Arsenal fans were left to lament the loss of a player who made sporadic appearances under Arsene Wenger and who later endeared himself to them with his tweet that "north London is Red".
Pulis was also forced to backtrack on his remarks that have made him a running meme, admitting to Sky Sports that "you can knock me over with a feather".
He said: "I'm amazed... He was a good kid... didn't mind him at all. He's fulfilled his potential.
"Having worked with him at West Brom and seeing him there to what he's done (to Spurs) is just absolutely amazing.
"When people show what they can really do... really knuckle down and become so good, as he's done, it's absolutely fantastic."
Bayern now lead Group B, three points ahead of Red Star Belgrade, after two wins from as many games and Gnabry said that the emphatic 7-2 scoreline sent out a "big message for everyone else".
He said: "The other teams know we are not stopping. After the 3-1 or 4-2, we could have stopped but we wanted more. The last time I scored four goals was when I was a child.
"To score seven goals away at Tottenham, I don't think this happens a lot. It was a great night."
He was not the only toast on a historic night. Robert Lewandowski, the Poland striker, had a double to equal Ruud van Nistelrooy's record of 56 strikes in the Champions League to become the competition's fifth all-time scorer.
He said: "I don't count my goals. I'm happy every time I find the net. If I score a lot, it's easier for us to achieve our goals."