Tony Mowbray was reminded of a conversation with Sir Kenny Dalglish, ahead of the 2012 League Cup final, that highlights to him just how good a footballer Peter Whittingham was.

The former Rovers midfielder tragically passed away last week, just 35, having ended his career at Ewood Park where he became Mowbray’s first signing.

It will be his 10 years with Cardiff City however, that Whittingham will be most remembered for, including his appearance in two cup finals.

He was part of the 2008 FA Cup final side, that lost 1-0 to Portsmouth, as well as the side which pushed Liverpool all the way to penalties in the 2012 league cup final that the Reds edged on penalties.

At the time, Mowbray was in charge of Middlesbrough who like Cardiff, were in the Championship. And it was during a conversation with Dalglish ahead of the game that Mowbray pinpointed Whittingham’s threat.

“I was sitting here watching old re-runs of football and watching the cup final between Liverpool and Cardiff with (Stewart) Downing playing for Liverpool and Whittingham for Cardiff.

“I remember speaking to Kenny Dalglish before that cup final and spoke about how you needed to stop their left-hand side with Andrew Taylor at left back, a really talented footballer who I had at Middlesbrough, and Whittingham who could really hurt you if you didn’t put some energy and legs around them and let them get their head up and pick passes.

“The fact I mentioned that to Dalglish about a Championship team who they were playing in a cup final showed Whittingham’s quality and threat.

“When we got the opportunity to sign him we took that.”

Mowbray regularly came up against Whittingham during his time in charge of West Brom and Middlesbrough, but it was when his contract expired with the Bluebirds in 2017 that he finally got the chance to sign him.

Whittingham would play just 22 times for Rovers, before leaving in August 2018, but Mowbray had nothing but praise for his application during his time in East Lancashire.

“It’s difficult to put in to words something that is so sad,” he explained.

“I signed Peter Whittingham having memories of him playing against my teams for many years and every time we seemed to play against him, whether it was for Aston Villa or Cardiff, he was always a thorn in our side and central to everything.

“He had a fantastic left foot and influenced football matches.

“It’s interesting when you sign players and watch them closely and learn more about their personality.

“He was a quiet guy, dry-witted, with some excellent one-liners. It seemed as though he wasn’t taking part in what was being said but then would come out with a one-liner and everyone would laugh and he really was a bright and intelligent guy.

“He was not a day’s problem. He didn’t play every game as he did for much of his career, but he had an influence and the lads really appreciated him and what he did.

“Like Stewart Downing does now, you can feel their quality on the training pitch and that lifts the quality of the training.

“He got on with the work, very unassuming, didn’t thrust a big personality on the group.

“He will be remembered for his brilliant years as a footballer, his influence on the football pitch, particularly with Cardiff, and how he brought a bit of class to the game.

“It is very sad news and hard to believe really.”

Tributes have poured in from former team-mates and coaches for Whittingham who died following an accidental fall at a licensed premises in Barry.

That doesn’t come as a surprise to Mowbray as despite Whittingham not being one of the biggest personalities, commanded a respect with what he did on the pitch.

“He was a very talented boy and footballers become very close, they have to because they go through lots of emotions together of winning, losing, working hard and pre-seasons where they pushed to exhaustion,” he explained.

“The pain of defeat, and the joys of winning, develops bonds between men and I’m sure a lot of our players who were here when Peter was here will only have spoken well.

“I could never think of a time when he said anything, or did anything, that would have upset anybody or didn’t buy in to what we were trying to do.

“I’m sure everyone would have been positive about him.

“The other managers I spoke to, Malky Mackay and people I know in the game, all spoke highly of Peter before we took him.

“I’m not sure what words I can add to what others have been saying other than a lovely lad, a wonderful footballer.

“We got Peter right towards the end of his career but I had felt his quality many times from playing against teams with him in it, you could feel his quality on the pitch.

“I haven’t got any stories for you because he just got his head down, got on with the work, very unassuming, quiet, didn’t push a big personality on the group or around the building but did have some one-liners that you recognised he was a bright, intelligent lad.

“It’s very sad news, hard to believe really. It shows how vulnerable we all are in life.”