Yerry Mina says the faith invested in him by Marco Silva enabled the Colombian to grow into a key figure at the heart of Everton’s defence.
Centre-back Mina swapped Barcelona for Goodison Park in summer 2018 but was limited to 15 appearances – 13 starts – in his debut Everton campaign.
He has played every minute of the Blues’ opening seven Premier League games this term and featured in last week’s Carabao Cup win at Sheffield Wednesday.
The 25-year-old came to Everton directly after shining for his country at the Russian World Cup and was formidable again in this year’s Copa America tournament in Brazil.
Mina’s involvement in that competition resulted in him being one of the final players back at USM Finch Farm for pre-season – but the player insists he was ready to hit the ground running after 12 months adjusting to the demands of English football.
“I really want to thank the coach for the belief he has shown in me,” Mina told evertontv.
“Last season was really hard, the adaptation, the language barrier, many things.
“Some injuries, too.
“But Marco Silva was always speaking to me and showing he had belief in me.
“That kept me strong.
“I know I need to give my all on the pitch for my team and my fans.
“I have grown and, bit-by-bit, I have improved.
“I have got to know my teammates and the coach.
“And the fans have been with me and helped me get stronger.”
Mina is poised for a return to the scene of his only Everton goal to date when Silva’s side face Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday.
A towering presence, he surged to global renown at the World Cup 12 months ago with his prowess in opponents’ penalty boxes, as much as for the defending which helped his country concede only once in the former Palmeiras player's three appearances.
Mina’s three goals in Russia included the header which rocked England in a last-16 match – and he was denied only by a leaping Ederson stop from striking in similar fashion when Everton were locked at 1-1 with Manchester City on Saturday.
Ederson pawed out another Mina effort with Everton pursuing a second equaliser and the defender was responsible for three of his side’s eight on-target attempts – the highest number faced by City in Pep Guardiola's three-year-old reign.
Mina completed three clearances against City and boasted the highest passing accuracy rate [92.5%] of Everton’s starters.
Silva’s side began the season with successive clean sheets – and were on a stellar run of 10 shutouts in 13 Premier League games – before losing at Aston Villa last month.
And Mina, whose Colombia team did not let in a single goal during this summer’s South American competition, is eyeing a return to the sort of solidity which had Everton claiming 25 points from 13 games spanning late 2018/19 and the start of this season.
“I have a lot of desire, I wake up every day wanting to do things as well as I can,” added Mina.
“I feel reborn every day and get up wanting to give my all for what I love doing.
“I want to thank God because he has helped me come through these moments [adapting last season] and push on.
“I thought we played very well against Manchester City… but that is football, it [playing well and losing] can happen to any team.
“You never know, we could go on a run of 10-15 games without conceding.
“We need to keep our feet on the ground and stay united.
“It is a question of remaining together and trying to improve.”