Panos Armenakas exclusive: Macheda friendship & training with Man Utd star Fernandes

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Each footballer has someone they look up to for inspiration, be it personal or professional.

Australia U23 winger Panos Armenakas is lucky enough to have met some incredible players on his journey. Having been through the ranks of England, Italy, Greece and now Belgium, Panos has experienced a range of club cultures and learned from some of Europe's elite.

Though his playing time has been tumultuous, the maturity and growth he has experienced is invaluable having spent time off the pitch with established first team players.

Speaking to Tribalfootball.com of his biggest influences on his career, Panos highlighted a few names that have made a profound impact and encourage him to aim high in his career, and they're both affiliated with Manchester United.

Panos revealed how former Man United striker Federico Macheda's presence was undeniable in his career. They crossed paths during Panos' brief stint at Greek club Panathinaikos, where they had very different playing experiences. Not only did Macheda take care of Panos but they got close on a personal level as well as professional.

"We kicked it off really quickly. I speak Italian and we got close. I'd spend time with him and his wife outside of football, we'd go to dinner and concerts and things like that, he was really good to me.

"He'd tell me stories of his time at Man United and what it was [like] playing and training with stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney and all while working under Sir Alex Ferguson who's one of the greatest managers ever. He really helped me understand how football clubs operate and he'd educate me about his mistakes and what not to do."

Although Panos didn't get the game time he craved in Greece, he was truly thankful for the time he spent learning from Macheda and taking his experience as he moved onto greener pastures, most recently signing with Zulte Waragem in Belgium's Jupiler Pro League.

"Macheda saw my quality and he would ask why I wasn't being played. He was playing and it's easy to have different priorities, but for him to take time to take me under his wing was amazing. He was a really good person, I had already matured in some aspects but he helped add to that even more."

During Panos' time with Udinese he also became familiar with Portuguese international Bruno Fernandes, and quickly grew to appreciate his abilities in the midfield.

"I'd always say it from a long time ago that Bruno Fernandes is easily one of the best midfielders in the world and his quality is amazing, he just wasn't getting looked at by bigger clubs while we were at Udinese.

"We'd stay back after training and take free kicks. Look at him now, he was given a chance and he's playing well for Manchester United. It shows what could happen when you're given a proper chance."

The pair spent 2 years together before Fernandes moved on, eventually securing his contract with United worth 80 million euros.

"When people used to ask me who is the best player I've been alongside, they'd assume it was Antonio Di Natale and that's a fair guess. But Bruno by far, he's one of the best in the world."