Brighton and Hove Albion goalscorer Haydon Roberts admitted he was surprised to be called up into the senior side to face Aston Villa in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night.
Roberts, 17, gave a composed performance at the heart of the defence and scored a second half goal, during the 3-1 loss.
Roberts said: “It’s what I was dreaming about last night (the goal). I didn’t think I’d be making my debut this soon, only being 17. It was a bit of a shock when I saw the line-up but to score just made it extra special.
“It would have been nice to go through but it’s a day I will never forget.”
Roberts was told he would be starting two days prior to kick-off. Despite the occasion, the Brighton born player remained calm said he just played his natural game.
“Yes I think that’s a big attribute of mine. I think if you ask the coaches they will say I’m very composed, I think that’s something that stands out about me and I’m glad it looked like that.
“It’s just another game at the end of the day but when you have got a big crowd you have that ‘keep it safe, but when the next 10 minutes go, you start to express yourself and yes all the nerves go.”
The defender now wants to follow in the foot steps of club skipper Lewis Dunk. “Dunky being from Brighton and myself being from Brighton you always look up to senior members like that.
“Hopefully one day I can play alongside him. Before the game he had a nice chat with me. So did Ben White in pre-season. He complimented me when I trained with the first team.”
Roberts also enjoyed the challenge of pitting his wits against one of England’s finest young talents, Jack Grealish. The score was 2-1 at the time and Brighton were hoping to sneak a leveller. Grealish however, turned the game in Villa’s favour and made it 3-1.
“That was just unbelievable,” said Roberts. “A few months ago I was watching him in the play-off final and just to play against someone of that calibre, I think he will go on to play for England, to be on the same pitch as him is just an honour.”
Now he has had a taste, Roberts hope he and more of Albion’s talented youngsters can continue to push for first team football under a manager who is keen to promote from within.
“Yes it’s very encouraging, obviously the boys who have stepped up they haven’t been given it, they have worked hard for it and I think if I continue hopefully I can do the same accomplishment. That’s my aim.”