Sporting director Matt Hobbs has praised the efforts and determination Hugo Bueno has displayed during his five years at Wolves which has earned him a new contract in Old Gold.
The young Spaniard – who came through the academy at Compton Park after moving to the Black Country as a 16-year-old – has been recovering from injury during the last few months but recently returned to the fold under Gary O’Neil and is back competing with Rayan Ait-Nouri for the left-back spot.
But that hasn’t stopped Bueno from putting pen to paper on a new five-year deal and Hobbs has recognised the 21-year-old as a prime example to all the young players at the club how the pathway from academy to first-team is currently very strong, as well as how hard work can help maximise ability.
On Bueno deserving his new contract
“Since joining us as a 16-year-old number 10, the work that Hugo and the coaches have put into changing his position, and the acceptance he had of doing that, shows what a good pro he is.
“To be able to get his head around a new position and develop at the rate he has was incredible.
“Hugo’s one of the huge success stories of the club. Bringing him in from a grassroots team in Spain when he was just 16, and he’s now 21, playing in the Premier League and being a regular Premier League player, it’s testament to everyone involved.”
On battling for the left-back spot
“It's interesting because we are blessed in that area of the pitch. We’ve got two young, exciting left-backs/left wing-backs, who are slightly different, but both have huge talent, so it’s a nice little battle between them.
“Hugo played a lot last year, Rayan has started this season exceptionally well and has kept his shirt through his performance. It’s good for them that they’re competing against each other, they’re really close as well, so it’s a healthy competition, and we will see the benefits of that from both of their performances.”
On his recovery from injury
“No player likes to be injured, but what I know about Hugo is what he’s told to do, he’ll do, and then he will do even more on top. If anyone is going to work to their hardest to get themselves back to a great condition, it’s Hugo.
“While we were all disappointed that we lost him for a period of time, we always knew that when he came back, he would be ready to go straight away because that’s who Hugo is.”
On helping to bring Bueno to Wolves
“I just played a small part in it, Graham Clutton and Harry Hooman did a lot of work on him and deserve a lot of credit. Graham spent a lot of time with him, bringing him across for family days, and they played a far bigger part in it when it came to identification.
“Then the work that Steve [Davis], Daz [Darren Ryan] and James Collins have put into him, developing him, changing his position, the work Hugo put in himself to be physically as good as he is, but also he was ready when he got the opportunity away at Palace.
“From there, he’s got more comfortable, he’s had a Spanish under-21 call up which is thoroughly deserved, and there’s been so many people who have played their part throughout his whole journey, but the one constant has been how good a professional Hugo has been throughout it all.”
On his development in Old Gold
“If you ask Hugo, he was a bit of a sulky number 10 who would throw his arms in the air if he didn’t receive the ball, but he came on trial and went to China [with the under-18s] and what we learned very quickly was his work ethic.
“The day he got back from China, he had exams, and even though the time difference would have been huge, he would play the games in the day and then at night, he would revise ready for the exams.
“He’s intelligent, comes from an intelligent, good family, and what he did have was the attributes where he was going to get the absolutely best out of his ability and it just so happens that the best of his ability is a really good footballer, an under-21 international, and a very good Premier League player.”
On being an example to Wolves’ young players
“What Hugo did, what Max [Kilman] did, what Luke Cundle has done, then Nathan [Fraser] and Hodgy [Joe Hodge] more recently, these guys are good people, they work hard, get the most out of their ability and are really reliable people to first-team head coaches.
“We’ve got several examples over the last four years what it takes to work their way through. You need to have the ability alongside it, but for boys in the academy, they’ve been shown that if they’re good enough, and also show the right characteristics, then they will have a chance – without a doubt.”