Tuanzebe: Villa helped me grow as a person
Manchester United centre-back Axel Tuanzebe says last season’s loan spell at Aston Villa helped to change him as a person.
In the latest edition of UTD Podcast, recorded at the Aon Training Complex last week, Tuanzebe recalls how living on his own in the Midlands helped him to both focus and mature, as the Villans gained promotion back to the Premier League.
That experience, he goes on to reveal, has set him in good stead on his return to Old Trafford, even though his campaign has been affected by injury.
“It helped me just mature even more,” Axel told hosts Helen Evans and Sam Homewood. “Just being by myself there, it was a very bog-standard daily routine. Come into training early, be there very late. Home, eat, sleep, train every day.
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“It was almost like, every day, you didn't have time to go out or be messing about. I didn't have time to travel between Manchester and Birmingham.
“I lived on my own in the countryside. I liked living on my own. You could be so focused and disciplined. There are no distractions and no temptations to do anything. It was very good.
“I could feel my body adapting, my football standards were improving. That environment was good and, coming back here, I've tried to replicate that and hit that performance again.”
Tuanzebe initially joined up with Villa in January 2018, after making his first-team breakthrough at United during the 2016/17 season.
Injury restricted the 22-year-old to five appearances for the West Midlanders, but he went back the following season and played an important role in Dean Smith’s promotion-winning side.
The decision to go out on loan was a mutual one that Tuanzebe feels was right for him personally at that moment in time.
“It was a joint idea [between me and the club]. I needed to play,” Axel added.
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“There was a lot of talent at the club at the time and we decided that the best thing was to go on loan and get the minutes in. It worked out.
“Everyone has different pathways. It's not always play every age-group and get into the first team and play every game. People go left, right and centre.
“My path was to go on loan and it worked out for me. A loan's not for everyone but you've got to find what’s right for you.”
Axel has made 10 appearances for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in 2019/20 and, after recovering from the thigh problem which has kept him out since December, he is raring to go once more.
“Staying fit for as long as possible, playing games, winning titles and trophies and having medals to show for all the hard work we're putting in,” he replied when asked about his hopes for the future at Old Trafford.
“Rebuild the club to its natural status - back on top. It feels weird that we're not on top after having been on top for so long.”
You can listen to the full UTD Podcast with Axel Tuanzebe on Deezer and all of your favourite podcast platforms, from Tuesday morning onwards.