The Ecuadorian begun life at Old Trafford as a winger, enjoying his finest period back in 2012, before being eventually phased into a full-back role – if only sporadically – during the latter stages of Sir Alex Ferguson‘s reign and then regularly thereafter.
And under Jose Mourinho he has become an indispensable figure at right-back, leading by example with a constant stream of powerful, disciplined performances.
Neville took to social media soon after the game to hail the way Valencia has matured into such a complete right back over the years.
Antonio Valencia has become a wonderful Right Back…
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) October 18, 2017
And Valencia was quick to thank Neville for his kind words, noting he set the bar at right back during his time at Old Trafford.
Thank for your kind words! You are a football legend and set a very high standard at that position @GNev2
— Antonio Valencia (@anto_v25) October 18, 2017
There was a time when full-back wasn’t a position of interest at all. They were just central defenders with perhaps less height and greater levels of composure on the ball, and generally regarded as extras more than anything.
But that has radically changed in recent times. Pep Guardiola, for example, spent way over £100 on full-backs over the summer and their role to his side cannot be more obvious.
And while Valencia may present himself as less conspicuous character, there are no doubts that, out of anybody in the United squad, the 32-year-old is the most consistent performer.