When I was younger, my hero was former Manchester United midfielder David Beckham.
I watched him all the time on TV. But as I got older and developed into a defensive midfielder, I started to follow other players who played in my position.
Claude Makelele is probably the one that most people remember because he excelled in that role for Chelsea, Real Madrid and France. He won the ball back superbly well and got his team playing.
Around that time, Gennaro Gattuso also did that job well for AC Milan and Italy.
Now everyone is talking about N’Golo Kante. Last season, he helped Leicester win the title and looks set to do it again with Chelsea. For me, Kante is the best midfielder in the world right now.
We both came to England at the same time. On the same plane in fact! He was signing for Leicester, and I was signing for Aston Villa.
We were both excited by the challenge ahead and while we didn’t talk specifically about the season in front of us, we were both aware of the positions each club had found themselves in during the previous year.
It was a massive moment for both of us because we were realising our ambitions to play in the league we had both grown up dreaming of playing in.
Looking back, I was probably joining a bigger club because of Aston Villa’s history, but it’s weird how things work out.
While N’Golo was leading Leicester to the title, I suffered the disappointment of relegation with Villa. Since then, we’ve both moved clubs again and I’m grateful that fate lent a hand and took me to Everton.
This is a big club and I’m very happy to be here, playing with some great players, for a great manager, and for a club that wants to progress, and I firmly believe we are heading in the right direction.
We are entering the business end of the season and after Saturday’s defeat against Liverpool in the Merseyside derby, we now face another big test at Old Trafford.
There are few tougher challenges in the Premier League than United away, but these are exactly the type of games players want to play in.
United are a good team but so are we and we see this fixture as another opportunity to go out and prove that. They have some talented players but we won’t be focusing on individuals – we need to concentrate on stopping their whole team and making it as hard as possible for United.
We know if we play our football and believe in ourselves, we can come away from Old Trafford with a positive result.
Saturday’s setback against Liverpool was hard to take, not least for our fans, but it’s worth remembering that was only our second Premier League defeat in 13 games so overall our recent form is excellent.
Our aim remains the same as it was before the game at Anfield: to qualify for Europe and finish as high as we can in the table.
Of course, that won’t be easy because there are other top teams fighting for the same thing.
But everything is possible.
A win against United would be a perfect way to get the Liverpool result out of our system.