Benteke Exclusive: I was so big as a kid, I needed my ID to play!
He's looking forward to the awesome atmosphere as Villa take on Manchester City this weekend - but Christian Benteke aims to end up in a world of his own.
From the age of five, the Belgium international has enjoyed nothing better than scoring goals and setting up chances for team-mates.
As he prepares for the City clash, the 21-year-old marksman eloquently describes just how he feels when he hits the target.
"The beauty of football is that when you score, you enter into a world of your own for the next few seconds. When I scored against Swansea on my debut I was thinking, I'm in a new country, with a new club -and, my God, I've just scored. I was in my own little world of happiness and pride. That was a very special moment."
There have been other special moments, too, since his arrival from Genk on transfer deadline day - like a classy finish against Norwich City, a brace at Swindon which carried Villa to the Capital One Cup quarter-finals, and an assist for Gabby Agbonlahor's winner at Sunderland.
He promises there is plenty more to come, too.
"I don't particularly have a favourite goal," he insists.
"But I intend to score it for Villa.
"One of my greatest strengths is my solid mentality. I enjoy scoring but I also like setting up chances for other players, like the one for Gabby.
"That sometimes makes me even happier than the player who scores because I take a lot of satisfaction from setting up goals."
Benteke's explosive start in claret and blue made him an instant idol with Villa supporters and an impressive ratio of four goals in ten games has sent his popularity soaring.
Now he knows his stock can rise even higher with a goal in front of the Holte End, although he is content to score anywhere.
"I've been aware of the importance to strikers scoring at the Holte End since I came here. That was pointed out to me when I looked around the stadium.
"But even if I score at the other end, I don't think the Holte Enders will be cross with me!
"I was obviously hoping for success when I came here and I feel I've done well so far. I really feel at home. People have made such an effort to welcome me into the club and I already feel a part of it.
"I don't have a target in mind in terms of numbers of goals. The most important thing for me is to get my head down and work as hard as I can. Then I can't reproach myself for not having done that. But to start setting targets would be putting myself under undue pressure.
"I throw myself into everything I do. I believe that if you work hard you will reap the rewards."
Christian was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but his family moved to Belgium when he was two because of the conflict in his homeland which eventually led to war.
He started playing football at the age of five and a year later was a regular for junior club JS Pierreuse, where his rapid growth proved to be a massive help.
"All I ever wanted to do was be a striker," he says.
"I used to score lots of goals but that wasn't surprising because I was taller than everybody else.
"I grew very quickly but it sometimes posed a problem. When we played against other clubs I often had to show my identity card because they didn't believe my age! They thought I was older than I actually was."
He started his senior career with Genk in 2007 at the age of 17 and over the next five years played for top Belgian clubs Standard Liege and Mechelen before scoring 19 league goals in 37 games following his return to Genk last season.
That impressive ratio brought him to the attention of new Villa manager Paul Lambert, who was delighted to sign Benteke less than an hour before the transfer window closed in August.
The striker was equally delighted, describing his move as a dream come true.
"It was strange, because in the beginning I didn't know whether it was just a rumour when I heard Aston Villa wanted to sign me.
"Then my agent told me it was true, which made me extremely happy. I wanted to come to England anyway and to come to a club like Villa was wonderful. The facilities are superb and the club have such a great tradition.
"Technically, the standard here is much higher than in Belgium. It doesn't matter whether you are playing against one of the bigger teams, where all the players are well known, or one of the smaller clubs."
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