YAN Valery has revealed he used to pocket Sadio Mane’s cash after cleaning his boots as a 16-year-old.

Due to the pair speaking French, Mane played a key role in helping the defender settle into life at Saints and would reward him at Christmas time for keeping his boots glistening.

Former boss Ronald Koeman invited Valery to train with the first team which is where the due struck up a friendship.

Speaking to RMC Sport, Valery said: “At Southampton, when you’re an Under-18, you have to clean the boots of a player from the first team and they give you a bit of money at Christmas.

“They gave me Sadio Mane because he spoke French and my English wasn’t great.

“When I went to train with them at 16 under Ronald Koeman, he translated for me and gave me tips.

“He gave me advice on certain words to use on the pitch that helped me in games and in the future.”

Valery arrived at St Mary’s from French side Rennes back in 2015 and went on to train under Radhi Jaidi.

The 20-year-old admitted he was blown away when he saw the club’s Staplewood Campus for the first time.

He feels as though Saints have everything in place for their youngsters to succeed and follow his pathway into the first team.

Valery gave the example of being given an iPad to watch his training back, which is something he hadn’t encountered before.

Speaking about what he first noticed at Staplewood, he revealed: “The infrastructures. You had a feeling you’d gone into the future. You can immediately tell the difference.

“The grass is really nice. There’s, like, 15 pitches at the training centre.

“Even the way of working is completely different. You arrive, they give you an iPad. You can watch your training. There’s everything to develop.”

First team boss Ralph Hasenhuttl turned to a host of Saints’ youngsters last season to help boost the club’s chances of Premier League survival.

Although they achieved this, the academy lads have found it more difficult to break into the Austrian’s starting XI this campaign.

However, because of the excellent facilities at the club’s disposal, Valery believes the youngsters have no excuses.

Discussing his experience in the youth teams, he explained: “After a game, you get an analysis on how you did. All the training. All the stats.

“You’ve got everything to work with and if you give everything, you’ve got no excuses. You can only progress.”