David Unsworth says working with Oumar Niasse is a “privilege” and the striker’s wholehearted industry epitomises what he expects from an Everton footballer.
Niasse delivered a 90-minute display bursting with endeavour and commitment when Everton beat Watford a fortnight ago, with the Senegalese topping his high-octane performance with a poacher's goal that sparked the Toffees’ fightback from two goals down.
The 27-year-old boasts the best minutes-to-goals ratio in the Premier League this term – and the fourth best in Europe’s traditional big-five leagues.
He has scored four times in 289 minutes of top-flight football, spread across two starts and four substitute outings – to add to his Carabao Cup strike against Sunderland.
Niasse has also netted 10 goals in eight outings for Unsworth's Everton Under-23 team since the start of last season – and spoke this week of how he is “always going to run” when given the opportunity to play for the Blues.
And the player’s appetite for hard work, as much as his prowess in front of goal, earned a rave review from former Toffees defender Unsworth.
“Oumar has desire, determination, and that willingness to run and run until you drop,” Unsworth told evertontv.
“That is a pre-requisite for how I want every single player to go about their job. He is a great guy as well.
“I have had the privilege of working alongside him and now all his hard work is paying off in performances and goals.
“He is a handful because he never stops running. His fitness is so good, he works tirelessly for the team – he is a team-player and that is what this Club has been built on.”
One of Niasse's first thoughts following the Goodison Park success against Watford was for Unsworth, with whom he initially forged a close relationship when playing for the Club's Under-23 team.
"He is a good man,” said Niasse. “I am so happy to see him bring the team back. He is someone who loves the Club and you can see, with the Under-23s also, how much he wants to win.
“I am happy and the rest of the lads are happy to get that win for him. We do not know what is going to happen but we are ready to work for him and I am 100-per-cent sure he is ready to do it with us.”
Unsworth was similarly forthcoming on the topic of winger Aaron Lennon, whose three starts for Everton this season have all come since the current boss took charge of the team.
Lennon played against Chelsea, Leicester City and Lyon, before emerging from the bench to win the decisive last-minute penalty against Watford that was converted by Leighton Baines and sent the Toffees into the recent international break off the back of a precious victory.
Former boss Joe Royle, a valued member of Unsworth’s support network, recently told evertonfc.com of his admiration for 30-year-old Lennon, saying the ex-Tottenham Hotspur man “gets on with it and always puts a shift in”.
And Unsworth was happy to add his voice to the plaudits for Lennon, capped 21 times by England.
“I am a big fan,” said Unsworth. “I have played against Aaron many, many times.
“He is, and has been, a top, top player. He has played for his country and had many, many successful seasons.
“I think he has so much still to offer. He works so hard, as well. He is still quick, still has a trick and still gets past a player. And he is a great lad, too.”