Former Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer has heaped praise on Antonio Valencia following his display during Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Middlesbrough last Sunday, noting that the Ecuadorian has been one of the side’s best performers this season.
The 31-year-old capped off another indefatigable display at right wing back at the Riverside with an injury-time goal that stemmed from his raw commitment to chasing after a lost cause.
That was Valencia’s third 90 minute stint in less than a week, and he received a place in BBC analyst Garth Crooks’ ‘Team of the Week’ alongside Jesse Lingard as a result.
And Shearer, speaking to The Sun, was quick to point towards the Ecuadorian’s sensational impact at Old Trafford this season.
“In him they have a player who is an eight out of ten every week and if you’ve got a few of them in your team, you always have a chance.”
Valencia has gone through three stages since arriving at United back in 2009: the one-footed, occasionally brilliant and occasionally frustrating winger; the generally useless bit-part player after receiving the No.7 shirt; and now this – an incessant, rampaging force at the back, harassing defenders and wingers in equal measure as an attacking full-back.
The Ecuadorian can often be hard to pin down as a character – mainly because, as a right back, attention has largely gone towards other players this season; the fact that he has never smiled or spoken a word of English doesn’t help either.
But make no mistake: Valencia’s perennial commitment to the cause, regardless of circumstances, is something that young footballers all around the world can learn from.