"An honour": Derby County star man reflects on first captaincy and historic season

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing has scored eight goals and recorded 15 assists this season
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There is no doubting that Nathaniel Mendez-Laing has had a special season this year. The Guatemalan international has put up career statistics and has become a crucial part of a Derby side that are chasing promotion.

Mendez-Laing has been one of the best in League One this season and is trusted and relied upon by Derby boss Paul Warne.

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So much so, that against Blackpool he gave the winger his first ever career captaincy as Conor Hourihane was left on the bench.

In a career that spans some 15 years, it was a big milestone for the 31 year-old.

Speaking to Rams TV, he said: "It was a very proud moment for myself. We all know who our captain is. Conor Hourihane is a great captain and leads by example, but with him being absent on the pitch it was an honour for me to lead the team out and it was nice to get the win as well.

"It is the most appearances I've had for a club at this point in my career [85]. It's a nice feeling, I feel at home.

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"From all the staff at Moor Farm Training Ground to Pride Park Stadium, it's somewhere I've really settled and enjoyed my time so far."

The former Cardiff City and Peterborough man has scored eight goals this season and also has broken a Derby County club record for assists in a season (15).

These numbers are up their with the best in his career and it is no suprise as the majority of Derby County's attacking moves involve Mendez-Laing in some form.

However, the attacker was quick to praise the people around him for his excellent form. He added: "I've got to give credit to my team-mates, first and foremost, and the coaches as well.

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"I get a bit more freedom, whether that's drifting inside or staying out wide. I've played a various positions and I've got that confidence that when I'm in the final third to just go and do what I do.

"If it doesn't come off then I know that's fine. We work incredibly hard to get the ball back if we lose it and as long as we're doing that I feel comfortable to go out there and try things."

He will be hoping that he can make another impact this evening as the Rams face a trip to top of the league side Portsmouth in the hope of cementing their place in the top two.