AS Diego Arismendi left the field in Valencia’s Mestalla home to rapturous applause from 4,000 Stoke City supporters, the Uruguayan thought his breakthrough moment in English football had finally arrived.
The 24-year-old had signed for the Potters in the summer of 2009 in a £4.6m deal from Nacional but by the time of the Europa League trip to Spain just a couple of months ago, he was still waiting for his big chance under Tony Pulis.
Arismendi had spent the previous season on loan at Barnsley and played plenty of football. But it was Stoke and the Premier League where he wanted to make his mark.
So, after impressing in the Potters’ 1-0 defeat to Valencia, the hope was that a first league start for Pulis’s side would follow.
Instead, Arismendi returned to the reserves and within three weeks was on his way to Huddersfield Town as Simon Grayson’s first signing.
The return to Yorkshire on loan is why Arismendi is today set to face Sheffield Wednesday in a crucial derby at the Galpharm as Stoke prepare to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League.
While at pains to stress how much he is enjoying life in Huddersfield, it is clear that the Uruguayan international finds his exclusion at the Britannia Stadium puzzling.
“I don’t understand so much the gaffer’s mentality,” said Arismendi to the Yorkshire Post about a career in Stoke that amounts to just three Europa League appearances this term and two games in the Carling Cup in 2009.
“In the Press, he (Pulis) said I was great against Valencia in Europe. In some Press, I was also the man of the match. But after that, I never even got on the bench. I didn’t understand what I did wrong.
“I think in the four or five times I played, I didn’t get a chance. I don’t understand that.
“It took me a bit of time to settle at first. The language could be difficult, even though I learned English for seven years before coming here.
“The problem was the English spoken at Stoke (in the dressing room) was very different. I had to practice a lot and get used to the words.
“I feel to speak well now so it is not a problem but I have not been able to get in the team.
“I have a lot of experience of playing games in another country. I don’t have too much experience in English football and maybe this is my fault because sometimes I have to stop thinking like I am playing in international games.
“If I was at Wigan with a lot of other international players then I may have been okay.”
Arismendi has quickly settled into the Huddersfield midfield with his five appearances having yielded three wins and a draw.
Another three points today would see Town leapfrog Dave Jones’s men into third and keep them on the trail of Sheffield United, who kick-off at 3pm.
“I really enjoy playing in the derby games,” said Arismendi. “Barnsley did well in them (last season) and got good results.
“For me, I came here for that reason – l like big games and Sheffield Wednesday is a big game. The atmosphere is great and they are the best games of the year.
“When a stadium is full and everyone is singing, it is like a party. If you are not happy there, you are not a footballer.”
Arismendi’s capture on loan was a coup for Grayson, who knews all about him from his time in charge of Leeds. The midfielder was involved in not only Barnsley’s 5-2 humbling of United last term but also the 3-3 draw at Elland Road and he impressed Grayson in both fixtures. The admiration is mutual.
Arismendi said: “When the gaffer called me, he told me about what the club was trying to do and how he wants to play football. That was something I liked to hear. I knew this was the club for me to have a chance.
“It is a very nice club and I am enjoying myself. For League One, they are a big club. I believe Huddersfield should be in the Championship.
“The stadium and the players are a very good quality. It is a family club, too, and I feel very happy to be here.
“I didn’t know a lot about Huddersfield before coming here. So I have been enjoying finding out about the club and my new team-mates. The best thing is I have been playing. That is the most important thing for me. That was why I came here. Football is not about money. I know it is important but the big thing is to play.”
Regarding promotion he added: “We need to improve a couple of small things. In these kind of games, it can be difficult as I feel we need to slow down and think a bit more. I think we can win promotion. A brave heart and cold mind would be best.”