Lucas Digne is embracing the responsibility of being a key component in Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton team after forming a deep attachment to the Club.
Frenchman Digne provided his seventh assist this season – no Premier League defender has more – for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to score in Sunday’s meeting with Aston Villa.
His hand in striker Calvert-Lewin’s goal did nothing, however, to alleviate the full-back’s frustration over a defeat that left Everton with a tall order to play European football next season.
Digne likened his relationship with Everton to a “perfect marriage” when signing a new long-term Goodison Park deal in February.
Given that strength of feeling, he shares the Evertonians’ desire for their team to be back competing with the cream of the continent.
Digne is set for his 25th Premier League start this term when Everton go to fifth-placed West Ham United on Sunday.
“Sometimes, when you feel very good in a club, it is like a wedding,” explained Digne.
“It is part of your life.
“You give a lot to the club and the club gives you a lot.
“I feel like I am at home and it was like this from the day I signed.
“Our goal is to be in Europe next season and if we do everything right, we can achieve it.
“It is really important for the players and the supporters.
“Our fans are amazing.
“They are still sending a lot of messages, you can see how much they want Europe and it is the same for us.”
Digne is braced for a breathless finish to the campaign as Everton get ready for five games in 14 days, beginning with the weekend trip to West Ham.
They face Villa four days later before seeking to cure home ills in games against Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Digne, who has captained Everton when manager Ancelotti’s been without Seamus Coleman and Gylfi Sigurdsson, attributes his side’s relative Goodison struggles to the absence of supporters.
Long-term, then, he is convinced the stadium will regain its reputation as an Everton stronghold.
Meantime, for Everton to have something riding on the final day visit to Manchester City, they have two distinct tasks.
First, sustain their tremendous away form, at West Ham and Villa, and second, complete successive home victories for the first time since December.
“West Ham are doing well and deserve to be in this position,” said Digne.
“It is like a final because we have the same goals at the end of the season.
“We have to win the final five games and this one is really important.
“We are really compact away… now we have to stay more focused at home.
“It is not an excuse, but it is difficult to play at home without the fans.
“They do an amazing job for us, like a 12th man.
“It is not easy but it is the same for all the teams this year.
"We have to do better and be more focused in every situation.”
Digne, who reached 300 career club appearances against Villa, insists there will be no hangover from that match in the reverse fixture next week.
The initial reaction, he accepts, must come at West Ham, where Digne will change nothing in his approach from those games when he’s worn the armband.
The “real captain”, maintains Digne, is the formidable Coleman, who is five Premier League matches from reaching 300 for Everton.
“I am very proud to be captain, it is a big responsibility,” added Digne.
“But I don’t feel different [when captain], I try to be a leader and to give my best every day.
“The real captain is Seamus, he is the captain with a big C.
"He is a big leader, a positive leader... a really good man. He is there for you on and off the pitch.”
Digne continued: “I give everything, every week, I am happy to play and have responsibility in the team.
“I didn’t know the Villa game would be my 300th appearance, my dad sent a message to tell me.
“I am very proud to reach 300 but I want more and, hopefully, will do more.
“If my body is okay, Why not?”