With Antonio Conte as his guide, Victor Moses has finally shown his worth to Chelsea after transformative season

The going hasn't been easy over the years but the Nigerian now looks the real deal. As he admits himself, he has the Italian manager to thank for his transformation

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The Independent Football

Prior to Chelsea's 2-0 victory over Hull last October - the first time Antonio Conte implemented the hugely successful 3-5-2 formation - Victor Moses had not started for the Blues in more than 1,230 days.

It was, though, not meant to be this way. The Nigerian arrived at the club in 2012 to much fanfare. Signing from Wigan for £9m, the then-forward was introduced in front of the Stamford Bridge crowd before Chelsea’s clash with Newcastle United. Fast, quick-footed and talented, Moses' potential was clear to see.

But he struggled to convince those in charge that he was worthy of a spot in the starting XI. Moses was like so many signed by the west London club – an obvious talent deemed surplus to requirements, and thus sent out on loan to keep his hand in.

Seasons at Liverpool, Stoke and then West Ham followed but still he struggled to flourish. It was Conte, though, with his unique perception, who trusted in Moses and retained the player ahead of the current season. Under the Italian's astute eye, the 26-year-old has excelled at wing-back and gone on to establish himself as an integral cog in the Chelsea side. Since that autumnal afternoon in Hull, he hasn't looked back once.

"I've always known that I've got the ability to play at a big club like Chelsea," he said after Monday's 3-0 victory against Middlesbrough. "And now we've got a new manager here that is willing to give everyone an opportunity. I was given the opportunity and didn't look back. I'm enjoying my football at the moment and just want to keep on enjoying it until the end of the season."

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Moses has thrived in his position at wing-back (Getty)

That "ability" to play at a club like Chelsea hasn't come easily, though. Indeed, Slaven Bilic admitted this season that he had to push Moses "day in, day out" during his spell at West Ham. Nonetheless, his qualities were always there - bubbling beneath the surface but never quite on offer. Dimitri Payet was one such individual who trusted in Moses, Bilic revealed, and even told him that the Nigerian was the best player in the team. All it took, then, was a little faith and hard graft - something that Conte has exercised in abundance.

"He [Conte] didn't say it to me if I fancied playing at wing-back, he just put me there," Moses admitted. "He put me there and after that he just kept on encouraging me, and went through it with me what the position was all about, mostly in training, constantly always talking to me, to make me try and improve. Talking me through it. I take that in and I didn't look back after that.

"[He has] given me opportunity to express myself - I'm willing to do that. At the moment I'm enjoying it. I know I've never played that position before but I'm enjoying it, I just want to keep on working hard every game, every week, to make sure I'm improving."

Moses admits that his own experiences as a winger have proven equally useful in his metamorphosis into a wing-back. So too has his meticulous attention to detail which, following Chelsea's victory at Hull in October, encouraged him to watch videos of his performance on repeat.

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The Nigerian has established himself as one of Conte's key players (Getty)

"I've been learning a lot defensively as well. The manager has been teaching me in training. I take everything in. When I play against a winger because I'm a winger myself so I understand what they're going to do before they try and go past me, so it's a lot easier for me.

"It was the Hull game where it all started. I really enjoyed it. I kept watching a video after the Hull game. A video of myself to make sure I was in the right place, if I'm not in the right place. After that I take everything in and just keep on improving."

Smuggled into England as an 11-year-old orphan, Victor Moses' football ability has been the making of him, earning him a scholarship to a prestigious public school and a first footballing contract with Crystal Palace in 2001. The going certainly hasn't been easy but it seems years of patience and hard work have finally paid off.

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