Gary Neville pays tribute to ‘wonderful’ Joao Cancelo after a couple of assists in Manchester City’s derby victory | Football news

Joao Cancelo has beaten Man City’s left-back and continues to impress – and his former manager Gary Neville can not speak highly enough of the “brilliant” defender.

The City full-back scored both goals in the first half of Saturday’s Manchester derby, and although Neville would undoubtedly prefer that he had not done so against his beloved United, the former Red has only admiration for a player he knows well from their time together at Valencia.

Speaking further Gary Neville PodcastNeville explained how Cancelo impressed him with his attitude to training as he got through tough times before developing with Juventus.

“I absolutely loved him when he was out there,” Neville said of his time with Cancelo at Mestalla.

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“There was a vulnerability to him when he was out there because he was so young. He’s so tough on himself, Joao Cancelo.

“During training, and I do not know if he is still the same now, he used to be his biggest critic. If he made a mistake, he would throw his arms on the ground and start cursing himself.

“I used to say to him, ‘Give yourself a break.’ It’s hard enough in football, as it is. You want to give the ball away, you want to make mistakes, you want to give goals away. ‘

Picture:
Phil Neville in conversation with Joao Cancelo in Valencia in 2015

“I had him as a very young player in Valencia, but you could just see exceptional talent. I called back to England – and you can imagine which club at the time – and said that if you were ever to take a young player, then a young player you would take.

“He and Andre Gomes were, I felt, exceptional talents who could definitely come and impress the Premier League. Others have had bad injuries that have stopped him.

“But I think the training that Joao Cancelo had in Italy would have been a good one for him. I think Italy sharpens you up from a defensive perspective as he is also at Juventus.

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FREE TO SEE: Highlights from Manchester City’s win over Manchester United in the Premier League.

“Then he came to England and when Manchester City paid 60 million pounds for him, the only doubt I had was whether City should pay 60 million pounds for a full back again because they already had players in those positions. I was no doubt at all what this player was.

“He’s an athletic machine, he’s an ingenious runner, a handsome runner with the ball, and he’s also a tough kid. He’s strong, he’s brave in his defense, he influences the game in defense and attack, and he delivers, what I thought he wanted.

“You see sometimes players do not realize their potential. He realizes his potential. I could not be happier with him as a person because I know how hard it was in Valencia at the time he and I were there. It was a hard school for him to have to go through.

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“He was a signing at the time through the Jorge Mendes stable, and it was a bit criticized in Valencia. He was signed for a lot of money as a teenager, so there was pressure on him to deliver.

“But he is a wonderful player, an absolutely wonderful player.

“He played left-back and he plays it just as well as right-back. He can play midfield, I played him sometimes wide-right in Valencia and you can play him wide-right or wide-left if you want because he is so good going forward.A brilliant football player.

“He’s making this City team better, and that’s a tough thing to do.”

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