New Everton signing Amadou Onana is aiming to build a legacy at the Club, promising supporters to bring energy, fight and quality in order to help the Blues to success.
The 20-year-old, signed from Ligue 1 outfit Lille for an undisclosed fee, has put pen to paper on a five-year contract until the end of June 2027.
Onana cites the commitment and vision of manager Frank Lampard and Director of Football Kevin Thelwell, the passion of Evertonians and the Club’s values aligning with his own as key reasons for making his decision to choose Goodison Park “easy”.
Adept in playing a number of central-midfield roles, he is now relishing the prospect of establishing himself as a key cog in the Club’s vision for the future on the pitch.
Speaking exclusively to evertontv in his first interview as an Everton player, Onana said: “It feels great. I’m very happy to be here and it’s a nice feeling wearing this shirt. Blue is my favourite colour, too!
“For me, it was an easy decision, because everyone here showed me that they really want me and they have a plan for me, so I really appreciated the talks I have had.
“Obviously, the manager [Frank Lampard] was one of the big reasons. As you know, he’s had a big career in England – a midfielder, too.
“It means a lot to gain interest from him. Of course, I can learn a lot from him. He played at the highest level possible and won a lot, so I think he can bring me a lot of things.
“Kevin [Thelwell was important] as well. I spoke to him about the plan he had for me, about the way they want to play with me, which position. We had a lot of football talks and I enjoyed it.
“These two guys have lots of ambitions and this is the type of guy I am, so it matches. I like the way they showed their interest… calling every day, messaging every day. It means a lot to me.
“Everton is a big, big club and it’s something that I want to be a part of for as many years as possible.
“I’m going to give everything for the Club and, of course, for the supporters, who I know about. I’m here to give 100% and win.”
The unrelenting passion of those supporters, he says, was another factor in his decision to choose Merseyside, after attracting interest from a number of top European clubs this summer.
“The idea of being in the stadium and just hearing about the atmosphere gives me goosebumps,” Onana explains.
“I am that kind of player [who shows energy and fights for the shirt] and I’m really excited to be in the stadium.
“The biggest thing I noticed at the back end of the season was the support for the Club. Even in hard times, tough times, you could see that they weren’t letting the players down.
“This is also one of the reasons why I’m here and I chose Everton.”
Despite his tender age, an air confidence surrounds Onana, who can speak five languages - English, French, German, Dutch and Walof, the mother tongue in his birthplace of Dakar, Senegal.
The path that led him to Everton is a long one, starting in youth teams in Belgium with Anderlecht, RWS Bruxelles, and Zulte Waregem before signing with German club Hoffenheim in July 2018.
After impressing there and during a season with Hamburg, Everton’s new number eight joined Lille last summer and caught the eye in France, making 42 appearances across all competitions, including eight in the Champions League.
Having played through Belgium’s age groups - captaining the nation at Under-21 level - Onana’s progress led to him earning his senior international cap against the Netherlands in June.
Despite the rapid rise, Onana retains an admirable level of modesty and believes his unwavering self-confidence, while also being own biggest critic, will ensure progress continues in his new environment.
“This is the way you get to the top level,” he insists. “It is about always being critical of yourself and growing up.
“These are the values my family gave to me so this is the way I have grown up.
“It’s important to have a good atmosphere outside of the pitch, as well as on it. It helps the team on the pitch.
“I’m a positive guy and I try to bring that to my teammates.
“My journey has been long but I think this is what builds the man that I am today.
“I learned a lot in these different countries, different cultures — all great experiences and I’m going to keep going.
“I think we’ve got great guys in the locker room, great lads who will help me to adapt as quickly as possible — so I’m not worried about that.
“This challenge is a big one, first because the last season was tough but it’s still a big, big club, one of the biggest in England for me. So, I’m just excited. Excited to be on the pitch and show what I can do and help the team as much as I can.”
Everton’s recent record of hosting Belgian talent has been impressive, with Marouane Fellaini, Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku all having enjoyed success on domestic and international fronts during their time in L4.
It is something that has not gone unnoticed by Onana, who also spoke to Blues full-back Niels Nkounkou, before sealing his move.
“There is a lot of respect for this club.” he continues. “I already know about the history of Everton — I know it’s a big, big club.
“I know about the rivalry between Everton and Liverpool! And I’ve heard from Romelu Lukaku, who told me a lot about the Club.
“I also spoke to Niels (Nkounkou) before coming here and he told me great things about the Club and that helped me.
“This move to the Premier League will help me improve and learn new skills.
"To do it here at Everton is such a great thing for me.”