Alan Pardew is convinced modern-day players are still motivated by the same things which sparked his own rise from non-league to the big stage.
The 52-year-old did not get his big break in the game until the age of almost 26, when Crystal Palace handed him his first full-time professional contract to end his days combining football with his job as a glazier.
On Saturday, he will return to Selhurst Park in charge of a squad of millionaires who have known little of the hardship he endured on his road to the top flight.
However, he insists all that is irrelevant once they enter the dressing room.
Pardew said: "Footballers are winners and the money doesn't have too much impact, really, once you are in the dressing room.
"It's actually getting to the dressing room, from Monday to Friday, that their lives are different, great big houses and great big cars and God knows what else.
"But actually when you go into the dressing room, it's still a competitive nature and players who want to win and money doesn't - or shouldn't - come into it."
Pardew joined Palace from Yeovil in March 1987 and went on to make 160 appearances - including an FA Cup final run-out against Manchester United - during four and a half years with the club under then manager Steve Coppell playing alongside the likes of Nigel Martyn, Geoff Thomas, John Salako, Ian Wright and Mark Bright.
That kind of progression seems almost impossible nowadays in an age when club academies are sourcing players from such a young age, but he hopes it is because of the lessons it taught him.
Pardew said: "I'd like to think so because I wouldn't swap the way my career evolved, if I am honest.
"I gained great experience in that non-league of how to win games and the grind of non-league football, working and then really coming to the professional world and thinking, 'Well, this is an easy life'.
"But it isn't that easy after a while. It took me a while to break in, but when I broke in, I was lucky to have two great strikers in the team and we had a great run.
"We reached the cup final and finished third in the league the last year I was year. It was a phenomenal team that Steve put together there."
However, there will be little sentiment on Pardew's part this weekend as he attempts to get the better of his former employers to extend Newcastle's run of good form.
The Magpies passed up an opportunity to win for the sixth time in seven Barclays Premier League outings last Saturday when Southampton came from behind at St James' Park to claim a point and, with midfield playmaker Yohan Cabaye back from suspension, the manager is keen to make amends in South London.
That said, he is well aware of the improvement the Eagles have made under new boss Tony Pulis - they have beaten West Ham and Cardiff in their last two home games and lost only 2-1 at Chelsea - and is expecting a tough encounter.
He said: "Tony plays a brand of football that's tough to play against - physical, demanding and at times, direct and you need to be able to stand up and be counted in that manner.
"All his teams have tested better teams than us on that level and won. But for us, it's about how we are playing, and we are playing really well at the minute.
"We need to bring that to Selhurst Park and if we can do that, then they won't get it all their own way and hopefully we can get three points."