Southampton's latest youth debutant Nathan Tella is grateful for the faith the club has shown him despite being sidelined for ten months with an ACL injury.
The 20-year-old did admit, in an interview with Southampton FC, that he had begun to fear the worst with his contract running down.
Tella said: “There was a little thought in my head, especially at the start, but I spoke to a lot of the coaches and the physios, and they just assured me I would be back to my normal self.
“It’s a great feeling to know the club have shown faith in me through a time when I’ve been injured.”
The forward has now signed a three-year deal with the South Coast side after overcoming his injury nightmare.
Fitness levels impressing the boss
With the season cut short, Tella was able to demonstrate his dedication in lockdown by impressing manager Ralph Hassenhutl with his fitness levels.
Tella continued: "It (lockdown) allowed me to get fitter because when I was at home I was working out every day, running and trying to get my body back into great shape.
“With the way, the first team like to play – high intensity, high pressing – the fact I’ve been able to come back and do those things has helped me a lot.”
Senior debut against Norwich
Tella has been named in the matchday squad on three occasions since the restart, making his senior debut against Norwich City.
He spoke of his delight at finally being able to make his debut, with it be something he had dreamed of since he was young.
”It was an amazing feeling – something I dreamed of as a boy.
“Playing in the Premier League is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life. To be able to do it in front of my family and friends, who were watching on TV, was just a great feeling – especially after everything that’s happened to me this year."
The youth-prospect rose through Southampton's illustrious academy ranks and has featured 34 times for the under-23's despite injury.