Belgium benefits for FCV graduate Lucas Panayi

Lucas Panayi, a star student at the FCV Academy over the previous two seasons, earned a summer switch to Belgium, joining K. Berg En Dal V.V.

We recently caught up with the 19-year-old to discuss his move to the Antwerp-based outfit.

First things first, moving to Belgium – that's a pretty big lifestyle change. How are you finding it so far, both on and off the pitch?

Living in Belgium is good. Off the pitch, you have to do a lot on your own, but we get plenty of help and support from our coach Steve Herbots. We had to ensure we budgeted very well in the beginning, but now that we have settled in things are much easier.

On the pitch, it's all about training hard every day on the right things, continuing to learn and work on our strengths and weaknesses, and going out and getting results on matchday.

Was it a tough decision to move to Belgium? Did the fact you had Sheldon Lindesay, an FCV Academy team-mate, also joining make it easier?

It was a rather quick decision. Opportunities like this may only come along once, and I thought it would be a good idea. Sheldon signing too, who I knew well from FCV, definitely helped my decision.

I knew that I would receive good training every day on the things I need, and that was another good pointer towards making the decision to come over to Belgium.

Read more: Sheldon Lindesay excited by Belgian return

What did you learn from last season's two-week placement in Belgium, about your own game and also about the style and standard of football over there?

We learned a different style of football and how the movement of all players on the pitch makes it much more difficult for a team to cope, rather than playing against a static back four, for example.

In Belgium, you have centre-backs that are able to push on and teams get more players forward – that meant sometimes playing several positions in a match. It is still very physical, but it does seem to be more technical too.

How much has FCV helped you develop your game? Will what you learned at the Academy stand you in good stead for your time in Belgium?

FCV has helped me develop my game by providing experience and regular game time, and that has allowed me to see different approaches in different positions. As a box-to-box midfielder, having that knowledge of different positions will help me in the role as I can adapt to different circumstances during the match.

Towards the end of my time at FCV, I also learned how I can further work to my strengths and fully focus on the benefits to my future here in Belgium.

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