Timothy Fosu-Mensah has expressed his delight after making his senior debut for the Netherlands during a 4-0 win over France.
The Dutchman was called up to the senior side after Lyon right back Kenny Tete was ruled out with a knee problem and, to the surprise of many, found himself starting at right back in the Stade de France.
And he battled brilliantly, refusing to give Layvin Kurzawa an inch in the first half and maintaining an enthusiastic tempo throughout, even when Thomas Lemar and Kylian Mbappe started to brush aside a languid Netherlands side during the latter stages.
Speaking after the game, Fosu-Mensah was quick to thank his manager, Dick Advocaat, for handing him his first ever senior start.
“It’s a special day, but unfortunately not with the desired result,” he said.
“I think the French were just a cut above us. I can not say I’m shocked, but it’s just a shame that it ran out.
“I am very grateful to the coach for the confidence he has shown in me. I heard on the matchday that I would play. I was very happy and will always be grateful to Dick Advocaat for this opportunity.”
Fosu-Mensah couldn’t have made his national debut in harsher conditions if he tried: a mismatched group of individuals comprising of veterans like Wesley Sneijder and fellow teenagers like Matthijs de Ligt, presided over by a manager entering his third stint as Netherlands boss and, almost cruelly, pitted against perhaps the fiercest team in Europe at this given time.
The contrast was glaring. France have superb talent in every position, blessed with young players currently dominating European football, and the Netherlands were just meandering along, utterly disjointed and without meaning.
With all of this in mind, Fosu-Mensah deserves enormous credit. Most teenagers would have crumbled, but the youngster fought indefatigably, throwing himself into everything and looking to move play forward whenever he could. He can, unlike pretty much any other Dutch player, hold his head high following that defeat and look forward to further opportunities.