Aston Villa summer signing Carlos Sanchez has revealed that one of the proudest moments of his career was lining up against former Chelsea defensive midfielder and idol Claude Makelele.
Nicknamed “The Rock” due to his prowess in the holding role, the Colombian international earned comparisons to Makelele during his six seasons with French club Valenciennes, before moving to Elche last August.
Making the £4.7 million switch from Spain to Villa Park in August, Sanchez credits the Frenchman with reinventing the position and admits that locking horns with his hero during a Ligue 1 clash against Paris Saint-Germain was an occasion which left him in awe.
‘When he was at Real Madrid he changed the perception of a defensive midfielder,’ he told the club’s official website.
‘His performances highlighted the fact that his position in the team was really important.
‘When he started playing for Real Madrid it really elevated the role in the eyes of the fans.
‘I managed to swap shirts with him after a game between Paris Saint-Germain and my old club Valenciennes, which was a really special moment.’
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After his impressive World Cup performances in Brazil bred high expectations for his Villa career, Sanchez has experienced a slow start to life in the midlands, making just one Premier League start in the 3-0 home defeat to Arsenal, but the 44-times capped stalwart believes fans will soon see the best of him.
‘I enjoyed the Arsenal game but it is a shame we didn't win,’ he said. ‘It is strange because before I came I only saw the Premier League on television.
‘Everybody used to say to me “wait and see - the Premier League is really quick”, but it is only when you join it and you start to play that you realise just how quick it is.
‘I am now aware of the speed that is required. I'm training well and physically I feel good as part of the team.
‘I'm looking forward to playing again soon and as soon as I'm back on the pitch I know the tempo I'll need to play at.’