Stoke City youngster Blondy Noukeu has admitted he ‘carefully considered’ the move to the club when joining last year.
The young goalkeeper moved to the Bet365 stadium last summer, arriving from Belgium, where he had been developing with the likes of Futurosport and Luingne since he was eight years old.
He has since been impressing for Stoke’s Under 23 side, making 13 appearances in all competitions for them last season and even finding himself in Michael O’Neill’s first-team squad back in July.
Indeed, his performances have earned him international recognition, with him recently a part of Cameroon’s squad as well.
None of this would have happened without the move to England, a switch the 19-year-old admits he had to carefully weigh up.
“I had joined the core A of Excel where I participated in training as a third goalkeeper,” he told DHnet.
“My agent told me he had contact with a club in England. It was Stoke City.
“I weighed the pros and cons by visiting the facilities and talking to Julien Ngoy and Thibaud Verlinden. My choice was, therefore, carefully considered.”
Apart from having to adopt to a new culture and a new way of life, Noukeu has also found himself adapting to the English game.
Much has been written about how football is different in England, with many a player over the years admitting to having to adapt to a different kind of physicality.
That is something Stoke’s young keeper has certainly discovered, admitting that he was taken aback by the level of training required.
“Fitness was not a problem because I have always been well built,” he added.
“It’s more on the field that I had to work a lot. There is an incredible training load and intensity that is exhausting with force.
“The gym, you are entitled to it after each session. The rhythm is tiring, but it is so high that it makes you grow. Even a goalkeeper has to run a lot.
“It’s also in the head it is played. In the U23 Championship, there is a certain mentality that pushes you to want to win everything.
“It is not a myth that we work more and that there is more this hatred of defeat than abroad.”