looking at these two fantastic players, it was all about trying to get to that level - not necessarily as quick as possible but just to the best of my ability. I just tried to be as good as I can be really. That’s been the challenge for me. It’s not really been the challenge of getting into a normal first-team - it’s the challenge of trying to reach a standard set by Rio and Vida, two of the best centre-backs in the world. It was a big ask, but something that you have to try and achieve. It’s probably the biggest challenge of all.
Was that daunting?
I wouldn’t say daunting. I’ve never thought, ‘I want to be like them’. I've always wanted to be my own player. I wanted to be the type of player that I am. You can never truly mirror the way another player plays because everyone is different. If I tried to do that then I wouldn’t be the player I am. So I wouldn’t say daunting but I recognised that it’s a big challenge to come in and try take them out of the team. It’s all about having patience and being the best I could be. You can’t put too much pressure on yourself in that situation. You’ve got to go out and play your football and make sure you work hard to always keep improving.
You seem to take charge in defence, organising and instructing team-mates…
I’d like to think it’s always been a part of my game. It’s hard when you first come into the squad because I was never going to be able to do that. I was thinking to myself, ‘How can I tell these lads where they should be’?