18-year-old centre-back Teden Mengi has admitted that making his Manchester United debut in Wednesday's 2-1 win over LASK is a moment he will never forget.
Mengi was an unused substitute during a group-stage meeting with Astana but was given his long-awaited debut on Wednesday, replacing Timothy Fosu-Mensah for the final six minutes of the match.
He became the eighth youngster to be handed a debut by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, following in the footsteps of Brandon Williams, Largie Ramazani, D’Mani Mellor, Ethan Laird, Di’Shon Bernard, Ethan Galbraith and Dylan Levitt, and Mengi told the club's official website that it was Williams' rise in particular which inspired him to keep working.
“Of course [Solskjaer's willingness to play youth helped]," Mengi revealed. "Especially Brandon, because we both play in defence. So when I saw him kicking on, it made me even hungrier. It made me think: why can't I do it?
“Obviously I got my opportunity today. It was a brilliant moment, I loved it. My mum said she was crying – I've already checked my phone!
“Obviously, it's a great feeling. I'd like to thank everyone that's been around me, supported me, from my family, all my team-mates. Everyone in the first team made it very easy for me. Everyone was very welcoming. But the Academy staff as well. Also, I'd like to thank the manager for giving me the opportunity. But, again, it's just the start. It's down to myself now to just keep on kicking on. But yeah, I'm very happy with it.”
Mengi's United debut was actually supposed to last a little longer. The 18-year-old arrived on the touchline with around ten minutes to go, but he found himself waiting what felt like an eternity for play to be stopped.
"The ball wouldn't go out, but I was just thinking: it's my moment, so I've just got to be patient," he said. "Everyone dreams about it. It's everyone's dream to come on at Old Trafford for the biggest club in the world. Luckily enough I got the chance today, so I'm really chuffed with it.
“Everyone was telling me before the game and during half-time: 'just be ready'. So that's what I did; I was ready. When I came on, everyone was telling me 'Come on Teden, it's your moment now', so I took it well.
“It's a big shame really [that it was behind closed doors], because my mum pestered me all the time. She said: 'If you ever make your debut at Old Trafford, I'm going to be there watching you.' It's a shame she couldn't be here today, but, again, it's the moment of my life so far - time to kick on.”