Jonjoe Kenny vowed to “keep on learning” after making his full Everton debut against Sunderland – and admitted the rousing reception he was afforded by the Goodison Park crowd gave him “goosebumps”.
Kenny had previously appeared twice from the bench for the Toffees' first-team but responded to being handed a starting jersey for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup tie by delivering a vibrant, robust performance from right-back.
The 20-year-old completed 90 minutes, as Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s double strike and a wonderful finish from Oumar Niasse saw Everton progress to the fourth round with a comfortable 3-0 victory over their Championship visitors.
And Kenny said the throaty roar that greeted his name when it was announced over the tannoy in the seconds before kick-off added to a fantastic night, both personally and for his team.
“When I got the ovation it gave me goosebumps, to be honest,” Kenny told evertontv.
“I know the supporters are always behind me, because I am from Liverpool. They are all there for me and it was a great reception.
“It was a great feeling to get my first start – and we got the win as well, which just topped it off.
“This is what you work towards every day in training. You have to wait for your chance and… my chance came. It is what you are waiting for, it is what you work hard for and the rewards do come in the end.”
Kenny featured as a first-half substitute against Norwich on the final day of the 2015/16 campaign and played the last 12 minutes away at Swansea towards the back end of last season.
He joined Everton as a nine-year-old and skippered the Blues' Under-23s team to last term’s Premier League 2 title.
Having also spent time on loan with Wigan Athletic and Oxford United, and tasted European and global success with England’s age-group teams, Kenny believes he has had the ideal grounding for first-team football with the Blues.
But he is refusing to get carried away after one impressive outing and is promising not to deviate from the conscientious approach that has brought him this far.
“I am not saying I am fully made – but I am getting there,” said Kenny. “I want to show I am working hard and listening to the coach.
“I am at a great club and working with top players. I have got to keep learning and learning and, hopefully, get better in my own game – and improve in games.
“I slept well the night before the match. It is what I have been waiting for and what I am working hard for. It is what I always want to do and I am going to be playing in bigger occasions than this if I want to get to the top.
“But it was a good team performance. We needed a win and got it in the end, and, hopefully, we can kick on now.”
Manager Ronald Koeman spoke effusively about Kenny’s display, in particular praising the full-back’s link-up play with forward and fellow youngster Nikola Vlasic.
And while Kenny was pleased to sow the seeds of a potent relationship with Vlasic on the right flank, he was similarly enthusiastic about the experience of playing in a back four including two international defenders in Wales skipper Ashley Williams and Michael Keane, capped twice by England earlier this year.
The debutant was delighted, too, for the night’s goalscorers, Calvert-Lewin and Niasse.
“He has got that in him, hasn’t he, big DCL?” said Kenny. "Dominic’s two finishes were brilliant and the win was well deserved.
“I am made up for Oumar, as well. He has been very patient, worked hard and never let his head go. You get your rewards and that he is what he got tonight.
“Keano and Ash are brilliant, and playing at the top level for club and country. With them behind you it always helps. Me and Keano had a good conversation before the game and he got me through it.
“And I think Niko was very good, very strong on the ball. I don’t think he could understand what I was saying! But we had a good understanding and did well.”