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Romain has proved to be Nuno's rock; THE rise of Romain Saiss is another heartening tale in what has been a thoroughly enjoyable past few years for Wolves.

Byline: Kick-off The Wolves view with JOE EDWARDS

A midfielder who fell out of favour under Paul Lambert, the Moroccan has become a defensive rock under Nuno Espirito Santo in the top flight.

And though you can sing the praises of so many of the squad for a variety of reasons, he truly deserves some time in the limelight.

Saiss washed pots in his father's restaurant while looking to make his way in the game as a teenager - making 500 euros a month with Valence in the French equivalent of non-league - and he did not sign his first professional contract until 21.

Now 29, he is not just surviving in the Premier League - he is thriving in a team packed to the brim with talent.

Saiss has looked so assured at the back, it would be fair to assume that he has played top-level football for many years. But the first five campaigns of his career were spent outside Ligue 1 in France, with Clermont and Le Havre after Valence.

He had to work his way up to earn a season in the top tier with Angers, before two terms in the Championship with Wolves, and now he is in his second in the Premier League.

It would seem those humble beginnings have given Saiss an added appreciation of the game, an extra thirst to succeed.

That is the impression you get when you see him gracing old gold, at least.

Saiss defends with so much vigour. He is not the tallest, nor is he the strongest or quickest player around.

If you were a forward coming up against him, on first glance, you would probably fancy your chances of winning the battle.

However, if there is a loose ball to go for, Saiss will attack it as if his life depends on it.

If there is a tackle to be made, he will not hesitate. If a professional foul needs to be carried out and a booking picked up - taking one for the team - we have seen, a fair few times, Saiss is happy to do that too.

His ability to read the game and eye for a pass have also come in very handy.

Similarly to skipper Conor Coady, Saiss has made the transition from midfield to defence in a seamless manner. Traits picked up from playing in the middle of the park - being efficient with the ball, staying calm when closed down - have served him ever so well.

The defensive musts - winning headers and tracking runners - have appeared to come easily to him too.

One of Wolves' longest-serving current players, Saiss epitomises what they are all about - hard-working, solid and stylish.

What's not to like?

CAPTION(S):

Glove story: Romain Saiss has become one of Wolves' most reliable and consistent performers - a player who has become central to the plans of boss Nuno Espirito Santo, right

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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Kick-off The Wolves view with JOE EDWARDS
Publication:Shropshire Star (Shropshire, England)
Date:Mar 7, 2020
Words:479
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