Chelsea influential wing-back Victor Moses has lavish praise on his teammate Cesar Azpilicueta and uncovered exactly how the Spaniard influenced his development into the Blues’ first-choice wing back in the wake of being nominated for BBC Africa footballer of the year.
Moses spent three consecutive seasons out on loan until the mid-year of 2016 when the newly appointed Chelsea boss, Antonio Conte, gave the Nigeria international the opportunity to break into the Blue’s starting XI.
Changing him into a wing-back right on time in the 2016-17 season was instrumental in both driving the West London club to a Premier League title and furthermore resuscitating Moses’ Stamford Bridge career.
That Moses did as he effectively took up the role of Chelsea’s wing-back – a position he once admitted he has never played in – with Azpilicueta more often lining behind him on the right-half of a three-man defence.
Moses has now been named one of the top-five players from his continent as voting for the BBC’s African Player of the Year prize opens.
Speaking to Goal.com in an interview “Yes, it is amazing, I am pleased with the position I am in today. My manager and team-mates helped me and encouraged me.
“It shows how hard I worked last year but it isn’t about being nominated but winning [the award]. Whatever the outcome is, I know that I have had a great year at the club and with the national team as well.
“I was part of the first African team to qualify for the World Cup as well which was good for us. I am pleased to follow in [the former Chelsea players’] footsteps; now I want to take my football to the next level.
“Every season I want to be the best I can to be Africa’s best player. I will do the best I can.
“To be honest with you, it is just about hard work. Once you put in the hard work then everything else falls into place.
“I am a player that will always look up to Didier [Drogba]. He is a legend, not just Africa, and Chelsea, but the whole world. Didier is a great player.
“He scores goals, assists and he’s got everything that you’d ask for in a striker. We as African players are all proud of what Didier achieved as a player. The way he holds himself is unbelievable.
“Mikel and Essien have been nominated too. I am proud that we were nominated for the same awards.”
Azpilicueta may not possess the Nigerian calculative running or goalscoring threat to opponents but Moses says no other Chelsea player has been of bigger influence on him than Azpilicueta, as he has adapted to the defensive demands of his new role.
“I’d say Azpilicueta [has influenced me most],” Moses revealed. “He played a huge part in my defensive development last season.
“He is always behind me, always constantly talking to me to make sure I am in the right position. When is the time to go and when’s the time to stay.
“He understands me. We established a partnership which was very good.
“To me, I would say that Cesar is underrated. As a defender, he has got everything. He’s quick, he’s got that desire, passion for the game. He just wants to play football. Azpilicueta is never tired. He can run all night in every minute. He wants to play every game.
“It is great for us that we have him. He’s someone that loves the game. He is always talking to every player before games. He wakes everyone up and says we have got to go out there and win this game.”