By Graham Hill
BJORN Engels has admitted he was ‘scared’ of John Terry when he arrived as one of Villa’s new summer signings
The Belgium U23 defender moved from French side Reims in a £9million deal.
And he gave a solid account of himself at Tottenham on Saturday despite Villa’s 3-1 defeat.
Engels says he had productive talks with head coach Dean Smith when he signed – but was in awe of coach John Terry in training.
The player knew all about the ex-Chelsea and England captain – but then admitted he was put at his ease immediately.
Engels told Belgian publication HLN: “I get a lot of confidence from the trainer
“But also from Terry. incredibly. Hey, when I arrived, I was a bit scared. You look up to him: such a legend.
“You expect him to step onto a training field with an attitude of ‘who are you?’. But he is not at all condescending. Completely the opposite even. You know me too. I have always looked up to the Premier League and that you are on the training field with someone like that every day and after the practice session, you regularly sit together for individual adjustments. Fantastic, right?”
Engels believes he and Villa’s other new signings have found a mentor in Terry and the coaching staff.
He added: “We studied clips from my previous clubs together I can’t imagine a better mentor.
“If you’re talking about legendary defenders in the Premier League, it’s him and maybe a couple from Manchester United – Rio Ferdinand – if you can learn from someone like that. The ideal guide in a new competition.
“It’s the details that can make a difference. An example – when I return to the position I don’t have to walk sideways, but with a different run, so that I have a better overview of the game.
“In the second half, a pass came true Harry Kane immediately came to lean. If I had walked differently, I could have blocked it. Those are the tips I can use to grow as a defender.”
Engels revealed he could have joined Bournemouth four years ago, but his club Bruges blocked the deal – that was despite the fact that he had an agreement he could go if a Premier League club came in for him.
It was an episode that hurt Engels as he had long dreamed of a move to England.He added: “The Premier League is the competition, isn’t it? It’s not for nothing that I have wanted to come here for two to three years. That moment was taken away when I was still at Club Brugge.
“In July. the opportunity came again. I didn’t want to leave it at that. The coach, Dean Smith, absolutely wanted me. I arrived at an ideal moment. It was time to adjust to the level.
“Everything is spicier, faster and more intense, but with Tyrone Mings, our other defender, I clicked quickly. This is enjoyment.
“For competitions like this, you come here. I am really happy, even though we lost. Especially because I feel that this competition can suit me. A nice feeling.”