Yerry Mina hailed an “important moment in my life” after the Colombian’s fine debut performance contributed to Everton shutting out previously rampant Chelsea on Sunday.
Colombia international Mina had to wait three months for his first Premier League start following a summer move from Barcelona and was handed the formidable task of taming the London team’s turbo-charged attack.
The towering centre-back stood up to the challenge magnificently, helping subdue the hosts’ effervescent front three of Eden Hazard, Alvaro Morata and Willian, who came into the game with a combined 14 top-flight goals this term.
Everton were the first side to prevent Chelsea from scoring at Stamford Bridge under current boss Maurizio Sarri and have claimed 13 points from their past six matches.
“I thank God for this important moment in my life, it was a great match and I was delighted to share it with the fans, my teammates and everybody at Everton,” Mina told evertontv.
“I feel great here and I am just working as well as I can, doing my best for the Club.
“And it is fantastic to see that if we all work together, we can push forward.
“It motivated me knowing we were playing Chelsea and it was such a big match. And it was very important for me to play 90 minutes.
“But the most important thing for me as a defender was to get the clean sheet. I thank Jordan Pickford and my teammates for helping us manage that.
“It is very satisfying to come out of the match with a clean sheet – and we know if we keep playing as we are, then the goals will come at the other end of the pitch.”
Mina’s day was capped when he beat a large field of viable contenders to the man-of-the-match honours.
Chelsea slipped through the gears in the second 45 minutes of a match contested at a furious lick.
Marcos Alonso’s intrepid running down the left, allied to the consistent menace of Hazard, Mateo Kovacic’s midfield nous and Morata’s goal threat, dictated that Everton could not nod off for a second.
Mina retained his focus throughout, the 24-year-old’s concentration, power and assurance on the ball all belying the fact his last full game of competitive football was for Colombia against England in the World Cup back on July 3.
Indeed, his passing accuracy of 90.6 per cent – he completed 29 of 32 passes – was superior to the comparative figure of the game's other starters, with the exception of Spanish full-back Alonso.
And after recovering from a foot problem to appear as a late substitute against Brighton & Hove Albion last week, then playing his first proper 90 minutes for more than three months, Mina is training his sights forward – specifically to the next stage of Everton’s evolution under manager Marco Silva.
“It was hard [to be patient during his layoff] because I am someone who always wants to play,” said Mina.
“I have been at home watching my teammates on television and that was difficult for me because I always want to be out there with them.
“That was unfortunate – but I am so happy to be here.
“I am giving all I can for Everton. I know this is a difficult league but if everybody works hard and I give my all every day, I can really help this team succeed.”