Brian Laws and Gareth Southgate were full of praise for Adam Johnson following Sheffield Wednesday's 3-1 defeat to Middlesbrough.
The 22-year-old winger was at his inspirational best on Tuesday, playing an integral role in Boro's opener and notching the third himself.
Luke Varney had fired the Owls into an early lead at Hillsborough, but a Darren Purse own goal levelled matters on 19 minutes.
Jeremie Aliadiere then put the visitors in front shortly after half-time, before Johnson wrapped things up five minutes from the end.
"For their first goal Johnson's whipped in a great ball and our skipper has had to put his head on it," Wednesday boss Laws said afterwards.
"Johnson showed his class. Every game that's gone by he's probably been man of the match and he's in fine form.
"He's got pace and an end product and without question he's as effective a player in the Championship that you will ever see.
"At times I thought we dealt well with him, but you've seen the glimpses of his qualities if you give him time and space.
"Take him out of their team and would they be as effective? I doubt it very much.
"So they'll want to keep hold of him because he could be their key player to get them out of this division."
Boro boss Southgate was also keen to pay compliment to his young star, admitting he has been delighted by the way in which Johnson has helped to fill the void created by Stewart Downing's summer sale to Aston Villa.
He said: "Adam is a special talent. There were some moments when he relieved so much pressure by just picking the ball up and beating people.
"He was outstanding. You win on a team performance and it had to be gritty and resilient, but a couple of moments of class from Adam and Jeremie have won us the game."
Southgate also revealed after the game that, having secured a loan deal for Sean St Ledger from Preston earlier on Tuesday, he is planning to step up his search for attacking reinforcements.