"We're all thinking he's playing the wrong game" - Keith Andrews recalls first impressions of Steven N'Zonzi

Former Ireland midfielder speaks to Team 33 about his former Blackburn team-mate and how he has developed

BY Raf Diallo 14:46 Wednesday 7 June 2017, 14:46 7 Jun 2017

Burnley's Wade Elliott (centre) battles with Blackburn Rovers's Keith Andrews and Steven Nzonzi (left). Joe Giddens/EMPICS Sport

These days, former Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City midfielder Steven N'Zonzi is one of the more highly regarded midfielders in La Liga.

Since signing for Sevilla in 2015 and then finding his feet in a new league, the 28 year old Frenchman has earned excellent reviews for his performances for one of Spain's leading clubs and even won La Liga Player of the Month back in January.

It's a far cry from first impressions when he first joined Blackburn for just £500,000 in 2009. Speaking to Newstalk's Team 33, former Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews had clear memories of N'Zonzi's inauspicious start to life in England but also how he has developed in leaps and bounds.

You can listen to the full interview on the podcast player or stream for free on iTunes:

"Not from his first training sessions anyway," said Andrews when asked if he had seen N'Zonzi's potential to play at Champions League level from the first time he set eyes on him.

"We just saw this big gangly lad coming in from France for a few bob and we're all thinking 'he's playing the wrong game here'.

"But quickly, very quickly I'd have to say, he adapted to the way that Sam [Allardyce] played. He was 6 foot 3, 6 foot 4 or whatever he was. But he was crucial in terms of the way Sam played, in terms of set pieces and screening opposition players. He quickly settled. He was very comfortable and he was right up Sam's street and again, it goes back to Sam's man management and he's kicked on.

"He went to Stoke, probably learned a little bit more there about the defensive side of the game and the basics of midfield play. He's gone from strength to strength and I'm delighted to see it because he's a lovely lad."   

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