Beni Baningime has revealed that he felt like he "belonged" in Everton's first-team after making his senior bow for the Blues on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old made his debut for the Toffees in the 2-1 loss to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup fourth round, but did not look out of place on the Stamford Bridge turf as he put in a mature display.
Despite admitting that he felt nervous in the build up, Baningime stated that once he took to the pitch his focus was solely on putting in a good performance - a confident approach he told the club's website was down to the faith shown in him by interim boss David Unsworth.
He said: “I could not have imagined my debut would come that quickly. I have just got to thank Unsy. He has had the confidence in me since day one – and it gives you confidence when the manager really believes in you, so I would like thank him, (Unsworth’s assistant) John Ebbrell and all the staff.
“I was nervous but Unsy was telling me, ‘you are ready, you have been at Under-23 level long enough, you are ready’… and that gives you confidence.
“I was nervous before the game but when you get on the pitch all those nerves just go away and I played like I normally do.
“I definitely felt like I belonged. It was absolutely great. the fans were brilliant, and I thought in the second half we were unbelievable.”
Baningime, whose younger brother Divin made his own senior debut for Wigan on Tuesday, went on to add that the inclusion of some of his former Under-23s teammates helped him feel more comfortable taking on Chelsea's talented crop of stars.
He said: “It was definitely helpful to play alongside Tom, we are from the same age group so we have played a lot together. I played a lot with Jonjoe last season as well, so it was great.
“I found out I was playing two hours before the pre-match meeting. Morgan Schneiderlin was ill and he was originally going to be starting… so I got the call-up.
“On the pitch, I was not thinking ‘that’s Cesc Fabregas' – even though he is a brilliant player. I am playing against him and that is the confidence I have and the confidence Unsy gave me.
“This game has given me a taste for more and, hopefully, I can carry on like I did today."