Graham Potter was drinking green tea when it was not in vogue and hated playing in a long ball team.

He was different to the rest and Gary Hobson knew his bright and measured team-mate would be a success one way or another.

Not many people inside or outside the game have a better understanding of Albion's new head coach than Hobson, the central defender who played for the Seagulls when they were ground sharing at Gillingham and labouring at the wrong end of the Football League.

He has been next to Potter on the pitch, followed the same educational route and organised training camps for him during a friendship spanning nearly two decades.

Hobson (below) knows what makes 'Pottsy' tick and the methods of the man charged with improving on two seasons of Premier League survival under Chris Hughton.

The Argus: Their paths first crossed towards the end of their playing careers, in Hobson's case with Hull, Albion and Chester, Potter with numerous clubs including Bournemouth, Stoke, Southampton and West Brom.

"We signed for York City the same day," Hobson said. "He was left-back, I was the left-side centre-half. He did all my running for me.

"He was a fit boy and a good player, technically better than playing for York at that time.

"He had left some bigger clubs but found his way there. York were throwing a bit of money around and probably that was one of the reasons.

"We played there together for three years, then we did our Social Science degree together at the Open University. I went on the Business side after the first year but he carried on with Social Science.

"I knew I wanted to do something and he got the ball rolling. I'd had kids by then, he hadn't so had a bit of time, but I was in my late twenties so it was something I needed to think about as well.

"He used to do his paper, bring it in and I just copied what he did! In the first year I got great marks, then after that I was struggling."

Back in those days Potter stood out in the York dressing room because of the way he looked after himself and his ideas about the way the game should be played.

Hobson said: "It wasn't easy. Playing in the third division was quite demoralising. You got some bad coaching as well.

"There was nothing to inspire you. Maybe that was why. He had probably been badly coached at some of the clubs and thought maybe I can do something better.

"He was always bright anyway. You knew he was going to succeed in something.

"He was very into healthy eating. His body fat was ridiculous. We always had to get in at ten or 11 per cent, he was always around four or five per cent.

"He was drinking green tea 20 years ago. We used to hammer him for it, say it was bad for you. We were drinking normal cups of tea and coffee.

"Plainly it was working, because he was a lot fitter and in better shape than us.

"He actually then spilt a full cup of green tea over his bare foot one morning. He had to miss a couple of games with a massive blister on top of his foot, so we all said green tea's no good for you!

"He was quiet, quite sensible. He wasn't particularly a voice. He would always say something but it wouldn't be a ' come on lads' it would be 'we need to do this', quite a measured approach and response.

"And it was always (playing) football. He was disgusted in how we played at York, because it was just long ball. Terry Dolan was the coach. He was very good to me but that's what he did.

"Graham had a different idea. He had been at other bigger and better clubs as well. So he knew how to do things differently. Some of us didn't."

The Argus: Hobson can visualise how Albion will play under Potter. "They are going to be expansive and play out from the back," he said.

"The goalkeeper is going to have to be a good footballer and it's going to be a test for the defenders, to be more comfortable on the ball probably.

"It will be a different approach. They will have to do different things. As a player sometimes it's a good thing that someone comes in and changes your ideas and thinking.

"You can get set in a certain style. It will be interesting now to see. He can't do it immediately, it will take a bit of time, but I'm sure from speaking to him he is going to ask them to play differently."

Hobson has been in touch with Potter since his appointment, not just as a friend but also in his role as Albion's training camp organiser in recent years.

Plans for a pre-season return to Austria during Hughton's reign remain in place. Hobson, currently looking after Derby ahead of the Championship play-off final and Wales, saw first hand Potter at work during the rise of Swedish minnows Ostersund to the top tier and Europa League before his year with Swansea in the Championship.

"We did about three or four training camps together and it was good to see his work, his whole approach," Hobson said.

"He was at Ostersund for six or seven years to bring those players into a system, so he had time. He could have stayed there for life.

"They'd have had a statue of him, he was that well liked. He was on a good thing there but he knew if he wanted to succeed as a coach he would end up coming to England."

Now he is here, via Wales, the green tea drinker with degrees and four years to move Albion onto the next level.