By Connor Armstrong
Hector Bellerin may be a first-team regular now, but he still vividly remembers his journey to the top.
The 21-year-old Spaniard made his breakthrough during the 2014/15 season - making a total of 28 appearances and scoring two goals.
Bellerin knows exactly what to put his successful rise down to, though, and he urges other young prospects to heed his advice.
"At the beginning, you’re just playing football for fun," he said. "There was one year when obviously everything just keeps getting tougher, you keep getting older, it is much more competitive and you need that little bit more of an edge.
"I remember I had this coach, I talk about him a lot, his name is Victor Sanchez. He’s the first coach that kind of introduced the psychological side of football to us. He is the first one that told me, ‘Hector if you work really hard, you can really become someone’. Since then, that’s been my ethic.
"I used to be the one who ran the most in training and I think since that day, probably when I was 14 or 15, that’s when I really got that mentality that hard work was going to take me far. It’s hard for 365 days a year to be fully focused and always work at 100 per cent but if you really want to be up there, you have to do it.
"When I look back I think I always had it in me anyway but I just didn’t realise when I was a kid that I was really working hard, I was really only having fun. But to be fair, that’s how I still do it today and I think obviously that’s what has taken me here, so I’m going to keep working in training every day."
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