Aston Villa defender Axel Tuanzebe has hailed the influence of manager Dean Smith and assistant John Terry on his development in an interview with his parent club’s official website.
The 21-year-old made the temporary switch to Villa from Premier League giants Manchester United in the summer after a spell in the Midlands last season was cut short due to injury.
An England under-21 international, Tuanzebe is thriving in a rejuvenated Villa side that are keen to propel themselves into the promotion picture after a slow start to the campaign.
Under Steve Bruce, he was forced to operate in the unfamiliar position of right-back but was moved into the heart of defence by Dean Smith following Bruce’s departure. Since the switch, Tuanzebe has began to establish himself as one of the division’s most promising young talents and certainly one of its most adept defenders.
He celebrated his 21st birthday and celebrated the landmark by sitting down with his parent club and opening up about his loan spell. The defender reserved praise for Villa boss Dean Smith and his backroom staff:
“The new manager and his team have been great with me, they have shown faith in me by giving me the opportunity to play in such a disciplined position. So I am really thankful because I feel like I am improving under his guidance. We want to keep the form and high energy going!
“I have a good relationship with John. He helps me a lot every day and continuously gives me pointers on how to improve my game. He is always available for when I need him and offers himself to help me and the team. It’s great to have him back.”
He has formed a formidable centre-back partnership with former Manchester United prodigy James Chester and could do little but wax lyrical about his teammate:
“I am sure everyone who has played with James Chester can only say he is a good person. As a captain, he is there when you need him and those characteristics show whilst we are on the pitch. I help him and he helps me. I am feeling a strong partnership forming.”
Tuanzebe is a man that is clearly enjoying his football and commented on his relationship with the Villa Park faithful, who have already given the loanee a song:
“The chant is great and it’s amazing to receive such great vibes and energy from the fans whilst playing. It urges me to continue pushing and fighting till the end!”
Despite making a slow start to the season, promotion is very much still within Tuanzebe’s sights, as is a regular spot in the Manchester United first-team:
“Villa is an amazing club filled with amazing people so, for me, the journey has been positive. I feel like it will only improve and hopefully lead me back to Manchester, where I will want to play week in and week out.
“The obvious one is promotion. We have started slower than we intended but things are starting to piece together. The next period of games leading into Christmas are crucial and we want to win all of them! Personally, I want to win Player of the Year for Villa but the main target is based on the team. I think we owe it to the fans!”
When the international break comes to an end, Tuanzebe and his Villains teammates will begin preparing for a derby clash with Midlands rivals Birmingham City.