Morgan Feeney believes the experience of performing in Everton’s historic clash with Kariobangi Sharks in Kenya will serve to improve him as a player, as he described the rocking atmosphere at the Kasarani Stadium.
The Academy graduate – who has now linked up with Everton Under-23s at their pre-season training camp in La Manga, Spain – played the final 20 minutes of Sunday’s contest in Nairobi.
The occasion represented the first time a Premier League club had played a match in Kenya and was attended by a sell-out crowd of 64,829 passionate fans.
Feeney said he savoured the chance to showcase his quality on such a stage.
“It was a full house and it resembled a European game – it was like playing in front of that sort of crowd, with the fans being really excited and shouting,” said the 20-year-old.
"It was amazing.
“The stadium was really, really loud. Speaking to someone who was five yards away, you were having to scream to get their attention.
“It was good for me to experience a crowd like that and how to deal with it."
During the trip, Feeney joined Mason Holgate, Lewis Gibson and Josh Bowler in playing some traditional Kenyan music, with the help of a few local supporters. They even performed an adaptation of the terrace favourite, Forever Everton.
“I don’t think the dancing and the singing was great from me!” Feeney added.
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BLUES' FAB FOUR DRUM UP A BEAT
“But it was brilliant to see how much enjoyment the local people get out of playing music. All the instruments were homemade, so just meeting them and seeing how happy they are when they are playing was incredible.
“It was a great experience for me to go out there. Everyone was so welcoming."
Feeney has had a whirlwind few days since flying back to the UK after the match against Kariobangi.
He spent only a few hours on Merseyside before setting off for La Manga, where he arrived on Monday night. He has since taken part in every training session with David Unsworth’s squad.
The defender was still recovering from knee surgery when the Under-23s travelled to Spain for their pre-season preparations last year and he says he is relishing being able to take part fully in the training camp this time around.
After making his injury comeback in September last year, Feeney went on to enjoy an exceptional campaign, captaining his side to a Premier League 2 and Premier League Cup double. His impressive form also earned him a nomination for the Premier League 2 Player for the Season prize.
The Bootle-born centre-back believes he can raise his performance levels even further with a complete pre-season behind him.
“It’s good because you can get your fitness levels up on the pitch, rather than in the gym,” he explained.
“Unsy and the staff are very good at managing my workload.
“We’ve had some really tough sessions, but it’s all about getting sharp and be ready for the season.
“The aim is always to improve each year. I want to work hard and hopefully become a better player by the end of the season.”