Beni Baningime has hailed the influence of “role model” Seamus Coleman, revealing the Irishman is a constant source of encouragement in the Blues’ dressing room.
Academy graduate Baningime, who joined Everton at the age of nine, has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign for the Toffees.
The midfielder made his first-team debut in the Carabao Cup clash against Chelsea in October and went on to record 12 first-team appearances, impressing with his energy, tenacity and quality in possession.
The 19-year-old’s displays were rewarded as he penned a new three-year deal with the Club in May.
Baningime has credited the experienced members of the Everton squad for imparting vital words of wisdom – both on the field and in the dressing room – which have helped his rapid acclimatisation to top-level football.
He says the players’ professionalism and modesty also sets an example – with Republic of Ireland skipper Coleman, in particular, an inspiration.
“Every single one of them has been great,” he said.
“I speak to Seamus a lot. He tells me, ‘You probably need to start believing in yourself more’. He said he was the same [early in his career] but that you need to work through that and you will grow as a person and have more confidence. Then that will help your game a lot.
“He is a role model. You look at how well he has done as a footballer.
"On the pitch, he will shout at you and that is what you need. But off the pitch you are thinking, ‘Wow, this is the nicest guy I’ve ever met’. And they are all like that. Every single one of them – they are great players.
"There are Premier League and Champions League winners there – and you are thinking, ‘How are they so humble?’.
“But that is why they are so good. And I think my character fits well with them.
“I come in and work hard. I am humble. I do not let things get into my head, because when that happens you fall off.”
Baningime’s level-headedness and desire to learn has recently been praised by fellow midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin.
“What I like with Beni is, every day, he asks things,” said the Frenchman. “He asks how he can improve and he listens to us.”
The youngster’s maturity was perhaps best evidenced when he was thrown in to the cauldron of a Merseyside derby at Goodison Park, with the game on a knife-edge at 0-0.
Playing alongside Schneiderlin in the middle of the park, his dynamism and incisive passing impressed as the Blues finished the game against their city rivals as the dominant force.
Baningime explains there was no danger of him being overawed by the occasion.
“To be honest, I did not think about it that much. I think that is probably what helped me,” he revealed
“I just thought, ‘I am going to play the game and try to do well for the team’.
“At the end of the game, that is when you think, ’Wow, I have just played in a Merseyside derby’. I had been watching those matches for such a long time. But in the moment, I was focused.”
Baningime may have broken into the Everton first-team and signed a new contract, but the DR Congo-born midfielder says he will remain as determined as ever to develop his game.
He also insists he will stay true to the values which have made him the player, and man, he is today.
“If you do change it will impact your football because you will think you are better than you are,” he explains.
“You are playing football and, yes, it is a dream. But how can that change who you are?
“It does not change who you are. You are still the same person.”