Gennaro Gattuso has rejected suggestions he was instrumental in the success of Andrea Pirlo for AC Milan and Italy, saying "let's not confuse Nutella with s***."
Pirlo retired following New York City FC's MLS Eastern Conference play-off semi-final defeat to Columbus Crew, having earlier announced that the 2017 season would be his last.
It brings to an end a storied career in which - playing largely for Milan and Juventus - the 38-year-old won six Serie A titles, two Champions League titles and the 2006 World Cup with Italy.
And Gattuso, now the Rossoneri's Primavera coach, dismissed any notion his own efforts with club and country were important in underpinning the dominance of his fellow midfielder.
"Don't talk nonsense," Gattuso told Radio 24.
"Let's not confuse Nutella with s***.
"When I saw him play, it made me think I had to change profession. Nobody knows that better than me, because I started playing with him at Italy Under-15 level and then all the youth teams after that.
"It wasn't only about his quality, but he was an animal covering 1000 metres, he had this athletic quality which is why he played until this age. He was someone who ran so much.
"I played with him for about 20 years when you consider the national youth teams. In difficult moments, I just gave it to him. I always felt assured when I was next to him.
"I understood what I had to do and he was taking care of the rest. He helped me much more in my career than I did him."