Adam Johnson was once hailed as among the best of his generation. But it never quite worked out like that for the player who shot to prominence during his time at Middlesbrough, after making his debut - in Europe - at just 17.
Nine years after that introduction, the man now plying his trade for Sunderland has propelled himself back into the headlines following his hat-trick in the Black Cats' 4-1 victory over Fulham yesterday. And with it has come a whole raft of tweets, articles and opinion pieces asking if the 26-year-old could make an unexpected appearance at next summer's World Cup - especially given the absence of Theo Walcott through injury.
But that is a debate for another day. For now we will focus on Johnson's performance on Saturday, where his goals helped Gus Poyet's men to a much-needed victory in a relegation fight that shows no signs of becoming any less tight.
The first, somewhat amazing stat, is that Johnson only had three shots on target against Fulham, and he scored from all of them. He also played three key-passes to set up goal-scoring opportunities for his teammates (more than any other Sunderland player).
He had a pass-completion rate of 79%, went on two successful dribbles and set up his side's other goal, for Ki Sung-Yueng.
In short, he was at the heart of the victory, and it was no surprise that when we took to Twitter to gauge the fans' response the praise was considerable, with a World Cup place mentioned more than once.
You can read a selection of the tweets below:
Always loved adam johnson and if he keeps up the form he's been in for the past 2 weeks he should go to the world cup— Danny (@DannyPotts_97) January 11, 2014
That's the Adam Johnson we payed for like— Jonathan Edwards (@jedwardius) January 11, 2014
Adam Johnson always had the quality, great hat-trick!— Callum McCall (@CalMcCall) January 11, 2014
be good if adam johnson gets back to his early man city form, another winger is needed this coming world cup— Ian Jones (@IaaaaaanJones) January 11, 2014
Poyet: Adam Johnson's performance was as good as you can get. We know the quality of Johno and it's important we keep him happy.— Andy (@SAFCsource) January 11, 2014
The only hat tricks this season has only come from Luis Suarez and Adam Johnson. Whoah… My mind has been blown. England call up for Brazil?— Daryl Gray (@Dazzerman06) January 11, 2014
Adam Johnson in his last three games - 4 goals, 3 assists #form— Ben (@LaernuTheGreat) January 11, 2014
image: © Ronnie Macdonald