After being handed his Everton debut at Stamford Bridge in the Carabao Cup fourth round tie against Chelsea on Wednesday, Beni Baningime became the latest Academy graduate to make the step up into the first team.
Having come through the ranks since joining the Blues aged nine, the midfielder made such an impression with the Under-23s that David Unsworth called him up to his senior squad soon after taking temporary charge.
Here are five things you may not know about the tenacious 19-year-old…
Baningime is yet to experience international football at any level so far in his short career but he may have a choice to make in the future – he was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, moving to England when he was two. As such, he is eligible for both, as Yannick Bolasie alludes to here with this tweet…
Making The Grade
The youngster has regularly caught the eye within the Everton Academy. In the 2015/16 campaign, he captained the Under-18s to Dallas Cup glory over in America, before making his Under-23s bow aged just 16 a season later against Chelsea.
Best In Class
At the end of the 2016/17 campaign, he scooped the prestigious Keith Tamlin award, named after the Club’s Vice Life President, following in the footsteps of Tom Davies and Ross Barkley. The award is for those who have represented the Academy with distinction.
Many Evertonians will have seen the crunching tackle on Ethan Ampadu during Baningime’s debut against Chelsea. Well, there is more where that came from. “For those who don’t know him, that tackle he put in is a regular thing,” smiled David Unsworth after the match. “He’ll do it in training as well. Evertonians better get used to that if he goes on to play a bit more!”
Beni signed a new two-year deal with the Club earlier this month and spoke of his gratitude to the likes of Unsworth and his fellow coaches for the work they have put in over the years. “My progress has been fantastic,” says the midfielder. “And it is all down to the coaching staff. Everything about my game, they have helped me with it all and I am extremely grateful.”
The young scout who spotted Beni was none other than current Academy Manager Joel Waldron, with the youngster snapped up after his trial match.
Six Of The Best
With Beni’s last minute inclusion - after Morgan Schneiderlin fell ill - Everton had no less than six Academy graduates on the pitch against Chelsea. We’ll leave you to work them all out…