Danny Webb does not mess about when talking about the bunch of kids Leyton Orient asked him to coach.

The former Albion forward was asked to knock the under-14s into shape by the East London club “A few Herberts. Inner city London boys.”

That was what he told to expect. Steven Alzate was one of them.

By the time Webb had progressed to first team manager, he had taken a few with him.

None of the diamonds has polished up more brightly than the midfielder who is now the talk of Albion – and being discussed in Colombia.

Alzate will join up with the senior Colombia squad after Sunday’s game with Manchester United.

He has made the cut for friendlies against Peru and Ecuador with national team boss Carlos Queiroz telling media he is excited about what the 21-year-old can offer.

By the time news of that press conference had reached East London on Wednesday, Webb was out on the pitch at Brisbane Road.

Part of the Orient coaching set-up, he was supervising warm-ups as they prepared to face Albion under-21s in the Leasings.com Trophy.

The circumstances could not have been more appropriate as a player who came through both teams was given his call-up.

Webb appreciates the story better than anyone.

He told The Argus: “I first came to the club and took over the under-14 group here.

“I was told it was a bit of lairy group, a few Herberts in there, you know? Inner city London boys.

“I took them over and it was hard work initially but we got them going and turned them into the strongest group of players that this club has produced in terms of first team players and selling players on and Steven was in that group.

“He always had a bit of a swagger about him. You could tell he had a hunger about him.

“I almost turned him into one of my little projects just to try and turn him into a mature person.

“He was one of the oldest ones in the group but he had a lot of work to do, I think, with his maturity.

“He was so willing to learn and so hungry that, within a couple of months, he was a different person. He had very good family support behind him.

“His dad especially was always in good contact with me and very supportive of what I was trying to do with him and the other players.

“Steven always had the ability but you have to have a tremendous amount of hunger and desire to get there and he had that in abundance.

“I spoke to him not that long ago and he is just a really mature young man.

“I am ever so pleased for him because he deserves it.”

Alzate was born in Camden but has made no secret of the fact his dream is to play for Colombia, the homeland of his parents. Webb remembers him having strong family support, especially from his father.

He said: “His dad wouldn’t want to miss a parents evening.

“I think he had a lot of business back in Colombia so he would come back and forth.

“But, if it wasn’t him, Steven’s sister or mum would come to these parents evenings.

“He would never just turn up on his own so they would always support him.

“Steven was getting the train to all parts of London and he would sometimes turn up a bit late but, as a 14 or 15-year-old, the desire he showed to get to games and get to training at places across London was a credit to him.

“His dad still texts me now and then to ask how I am and says thanks again for helping Steven along the way.”

Webb rose through the ranks and had a brief stint as first team manager during a turbulent spell which saw O’s, under Italian ownership, crash out of the Football League. They were grim days but the band of young players who came through offered something to cheer.

Webb said: “I moved up with that group, from 14s to 15s to 16s to youth team and, within five years, I was with the first team.

“With the environment here at the time, I made the choice that, when I was manager, whatever happened, I would throw these youngsters in to give everybody around here a lift, to say that it is positive, there are players here who just want to play football and not just pick up some money and go somewhere else. Steven was one of them.

“We lost heavily on a Tuesday night at Stevenage and it was quite a mixed team.

“Then we had Newport away, which was bottom versus second-bottom.

“I think we had seven lads in there from the youth team.

“I played him in a wide position and encouraged him to come in and just have a bit of freedom in his play and he was excellent.

“Whether it was here or now at Brighton, he shows no fear.

“If you look at those top players in the Premier League, they don’t show fear.

“And he had that work rate that he has got now so it is great to see him in the team and in there consistently.”

That was in March, 2017. At that time, both Albion and Orient were heading out of the Football League, one through the front door and one out of the back.

The Rodney Parade pitch was at its worst but Alzate showed great footwork to slip away from challenges.

Webb recalled: “It was a terrible pitch, hostile surroundings – but it was great.

“One of the pictures on the Sunday morning was all of them celebrating and I think five of them had come from that under-14s team.

“It was lovely. He wasn’t just playing football in the first team, he was playing football with his mates.

“It was a crappy old pitch and a scrappy old game but it certainly set the tone for him from a personal level.”

That crop of young O’s also included Josh Koroma, now at Huddersfield, Tristan Abrahams, who moved on to Norwich, and Sam Dalby, who has progressed to Watford via Leeds.

But Alzate has so far shone brightest.

Webb said: “You’d like to say you saw it coming “But some of the lads have got all the potential in the world and throw it away. He didn’t. He chose to take that potential.

“Yes, I threw him in and gave him a chance.

“But, once you have that chance, you have got to take it and he has done that.

“Then Brighton took a chance on him in terms of taking a boy from the Conference, because we had just got relegated.

“Mr Potter has come and thrown him in the first team so he has got to take a lot of credit.

“A lot of people along the way deserve pats on the back but none more so than Steven himself for doing it.”