Youngster opens up after signing new long-term deal at Saints
"I know that I have a lot to work on, and I think it's good that I know it."
Yan Valery might have burst onto the scene in spectacular fashion in recent months, and been rewarded for that with a new, long-term contract at Southampton, but speak to the young full-back and you will quickly realise his feet are still firmly planted on the ground.
Only moments after putting pen to paper on a fresh deal at St Mary's, which runs until 2023, Valery sits down to reflect on it.
It is, as he explains, a big step in his career – but not at any stage does he display any sense of ego or any feeling that he has now made it in the professional game.
"I'm still making mistakes, there are some things that I don't see," he said. "My heading technique is not that good, and sometimes my first touch.
"I have got a lot of things to work on, and I know it, so that's why I keep working and one day it will come and I will be better. That's what I want.
"Every time after training, if the session was not too hard, I work with one of the coaches – Craig Fleming – or maybe some of the other players.
"I know that I have a lot to work on, and I think it's good that I know it. Now I just have to work on it."
yan valeryi have to give back in return. i have to give everything i've got.
Valery's first-team debut only arrived last November, in a League Cup tie away to Leicester, and, since then, the 20-year-old has barely been out of the side.
The young Frenchman has now made 17 senior appearances for Saints, grabbing headlines in his last two matches for his wonder strike away to Manchester United and a vital equaliser in the 2-1 home win over Tottenham.
Could that plus a new contract have gone to his head? Nothing could be further from the truth.
For Valery, the new contract does not represent an opportunity to relax – instead, it is further motivation to continue his progress at the club.
"They have showed me that they like me, and the coach as well, so I have to give back in return, I have to give everything I've got," he said.
"The most important thing is I want to stay in the Premier League with this club. To the end of the season we have to fight, and if I work hard and I'm a better player then I'm definitely helping the team as well. That's what I want, to be the best I can be on the pitch to help the team stay in the Premier League.
When it comes to the team, Valery is glowing in how his colleagues have helped him to reach this point.
"They have been so important," he said. "To be honest, when I was younger and sometimes going into the first-team I was a little bit scared – scared to train with them, scared to try things, but they always talk to me and give me advice.
"If they have to shout at me they will shout at me, but I know that's not a bad thing, or that they don't like me. It's that they want me to improve.
"Before the games they talk to me always and tell me 'Be confident,' 'Do this, or do that,' – against Man United, on the pitch, Charlie and Redders told me 'Next time, when you've got the ball, take one touch and sometimes cross or shoot' and I actually did that and scored. It's a lot of things like that.
yan valeryi think with this coach i have got everything i need.
on ralph hasenhüttl
"You just have to learn from them. They have experience, they're good people. When you have to laugh with them they laugh, when you have to be serious they are serious. It is like a family and that's really important I think."
And what about, if you like, the head of that family – manager Ralph Hasenhüttl, who has shown significant faith in the youngster.
"He's really looking at every detail on the pitch, so when he sees something I should do, or some positions I should be in, or some runs, he tells me and then I try to do it," said Valery.
"Sometimes he, and Danny his assistant, show me some videos as well, because you can't always see it on the pitch really.
"I can tell you he helped me a lot and I think you can see it in every game. I'm improving my game and that's what I want.
"I just want to improve and be better every game and try to play as many games as I can at first-team level, get experience and just keep working hard. I think with this coach I have got everything I need."