Mason Holgate’s breakthrough season with Everton proved he won’t be fazed by big occasions, says Under-23s boss David Unsworth.
Holgate, an August 2015 signing from Championship side Barnsley, made his first-team debut against Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of last term and went on to rack up 21 appearances in all competitions.
The defender’s form saw him elevated to the England Under-21s side for this summer’s European Championship, with the Young Lions set to play in the semi-finals of the competition on Tuesday.
And Unsworth, who helped bring Holgate to Goodison Park, believes the 20-year-old has the ideal mentality to tackle whatever challenge is placed before him.
“Mason’s been brought up right, he’s been schooled right,” the 1995 FA Cup winner told evertonfc.com. “We identified the fact we needed to bring a player like Mason into our [Under-23s] group and since then he’s bought into the values of this club and what we’re all about.
“Big games don’t faze him and they shouldn’t. He plays for Everton, so nothing should faze him.
"Going to Old Trafford, Anfield, playing at Goodison, it shouldn’t faze you. When you pull that royal blue shirt on it should make you feel 10 feet tall.”
Holgate has played all but 45 minutes of England's Euro campaign to date, helping them top group A ahead of Slovakia, Sweden and hosts Poland.
And Unsworth knows the Yorkshireman will now be desperate to follow in the footsteps of his five Everton teammates who tasted Under-20s World Cup glory with the Young Lions last month.
“When you’re humble like Mason is, when you’re a top young player, when you work your socks off like all our young players do, and when you’re brought up in the right way, with a winning mentality, that is what you get,” he added.
“People who have been coaching for years and years can argue that it’s all about development and it’s not about winning.
“But we have a very distinct policy here of, yes, it’s about development, but why can’t you win at the same time?
“We install that winning mentality in all our players and I firmly believe you can develop and produce winners at the same time.”