Yannick Bolasie admitted the reaction from fans to his arrival in Tanzania has him eager to return to playing.
The DR Congo international has travelled with the Everton squad ahead of Thursday evening's match against Kenyan side Gor Mahia, even though he is still recovering from the serious knee injury he sustained last season.
The Blues have been warmly welcomed since touching down in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday morning, with Bolasie in particular attracting a vocal crowd, with a group on Congo fans following the team bus from the airport.
“The welcome has been incredible,” said the Toffees winger. “We are the first Premier League team to come to Tanzania and it has been fantastic for myself and Everton to be here.
“It is a dream come true for the people here to have a Premier League team come out to their country. Everton deserve a lot of credit, that’s for sure, because that dream would not have happened for many of them.
“It felt nice to have a little bit of an extra special welcome, with the group of Congo fans here as well. It makes we want to get back and play! The Congolese fans have always been great with me and I always try and give them 100 per cent. Whenever I have played for my former clubs and now for Everton, I know that I am representing not only myself but Africa as well.”
Bolasie will have to be content with a place amongst the expected 60,000-capacity crowd for Thursday’s game against Gor Mahia, Everton’s first friendly since returning to pre-season training.
But he is still excited to see a full house at Tanzania’s National Stadium cheer on the Blues.
“It is a huge thing to bring Premier League football here to Tanzania,” he added. “You see the excitement over the players who have come, and you can see that it is a great thing that Everton have done. There are not many teams that would come out here. The population are just happy to be able to see us come out and play in their stadiums.
“You will see just how much African people love their football at the game tomorrow. I am expecting a full stadium for the game against Gor Mahia. Especially with the players we will have on show, the locals will want to come and watch.
“I’m just disappointed not to play! The last two times I have come to Africa I haven’t been able to play so it’s a bit weird. But it has been great to come out and be a part of the group. It has been a little break for me and has allowed me to bond with the new faces we have in the squad.”
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