Ademola Lookman says Everton manager Marco Silva’s faith in his ability has provided him with the confidence to express himself on the pitch.
Lookman has made 17 appearances for the Blues this season, with his electric pace, close control and composure in possession regularly impressing.
The 21-year-old stressed the importance of “playing with enjoyment” and highlighted boss Silva’s encouraging nature as an important factor behind his livewire displays this term.
Lookman, who joined Everton from Charlton Athletic in 2017, believes the stimulating environment at the Club will help him to further progress his game.
“It is always important to feel you have the manager’s trust,” he added. “Once you go out there it enables you to play free.
“I have always thought about football in terms of enjoying myself. I still play football for fun and that is what I want to do my whole career, God willing.
“I enjoy expressing myself and I enjoy the pressure of football.
“You may not think it but when I was playing Sunday league [for Waterloo], I was feeling pressure. I don’t want to sound big headed, but I was the main player in the team and always wanted to do better than last week.
“I would put pressure on myself, regardless. But I always just wanted to have fun.”
Lookman’s progress has been rapid since he left non-league team Waterloo to join Charlton’s Academy at the age of 16.
He went on to make 49 first-team appearances for the Addicks, scoring 12 goals.
His eye-catching performances earned him a move to Everton and he has achieved international recognition for England, notably winning the U20 FIFA World Cup in 2017.
Lookman is now part of a gifted group of England Under-21 players alongside Toffees teammates Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tom Davies, Jonjoe Kenny and Kieran Dowell.
The youngster says he retains a steely determination to continue his progress.
As well as the support from boss Silva and the Everton coaching staff, Lookman studiously analyses his own game.
The Peckham youngster details how a close-knit group of valuable sounding boards back in London also provide trusted advice.
“I have got into a habit where I try to settle down after the match then the next day I will have a think and analyse my performance,” he said.
“I speak with two of my old coaches from Waterloo, they have been with me from when I was seven years old and are like my mentors. And I talk to my dad as well.
“It is so important to be surrounded by people who tell you the truth.
“It is not hard to hear. You want to learn every single day, so if they tell you the truth and you can’t accept it, you do not want to grow.
“Sometimes it feels I am living their dream, if that makes sense. It is a pressure, but a good pressure. I enjoy it.
“They are with me on that journey. I use the strength they give me and combine that with my strength. It helps me a lot.”