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Antonio Valencia Details The Military Training He Had To Undergo In Ecuador

Antonio Valencia Details The Military Training He Had To Undergo In Ecuador
By Mikey Traynor

In a season that has been infuriatingly inconsistent for Manchester United fans, very few players can say they have had as good a year individually as the two players in the running for the club's player of the year.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will almost surely claim the award for his goals, and justifiably so, but even he has had some shocking misses and some underwhelming performances dotted every now and then.

Valencia, on the other hand, as been head and shoulders above all else in terms of consistency, as he has improved vastly in his defensive positioning and decision-making to make himself one of the top right-backs in the league.

Speaking to BT Sport in a rare TV interview before kick-off against Celta Vigo, we may have been given an insight as to where this consistency comes from, as Valencia explained he was forced to undergo military training as a teenager in Ecuador.

Yes, not only in football [we must do military training], but in life too.

You have to get up early in the morning and be on time for meals. You are just like an extra soldier. Even if you are fourteen or fifteen, you are an extra soldier.

The discipline they instil in you is very good and it helps when you live away.

He wasn't going into too much detail, as getting up early and being on time for meals doesn't sound difficult at all, but military training is something you simply cannot imagine some of the young footballers at big clubs in England getting through.

Aside from the military training, Valencia's life was seriously tough. He mentioned the small Amazonian village he came from in the interview above, but Kevin Kilbane did a much better job of describing the difficulty of his surroundings on Off The Ball last year:

It's never really been reported about Antonio - he was basically born in extreme poverty. No education, brought over to England from Villarreal. Paul Jewell brought him - someone saw him, I think it was the 2006 World Cup.

He couldn't speak English at all, and that was down to his education. He couldn't fathom it out...so we had an interpreter with us at Wigan for such a long time, who used to sit in the dressing room.

So you imagine, you have Paul Jewell there who used to eff and jeff and everything at us. And he (the interpreter) used to interpret everything back of Paul Jewell's team talk to Antonio in the corner. So he'd be whispering to Antonio in some other language.

What he's done in his life, Antonio, is just exceptional. And I've got total admiration for him.

United fans have been loving his return to form this year, as while he has always been consistent, that has occasionally meant consistently poor as he has also had some very difficult spells in his Man Utd career.

His renaissance as a fullback has been great to see, as considering where he has come from it's a fantastic story to see him playing for a club the size of Manchester United.

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