A clean sheet against the reigning league champions isn’t a bad way to begin your 2010/11 season in the Premiership, but that’s exactly how it worked out for yet another youth product off the Manchester City conveyor belt.
Dedryck Boyata’s assured performance against free scoring Chelsea last weekend was all the more impressive considering he was playing out of position at right back, but you would hardly have noticed that such was the maturity of his display.
“I didn’t expect to play,” he admitted. “Usually in the week we train with the starting XI and I was not in it.
“Then when I glanced up at the board to see who was in the actual side, I only saw the first two letters ‘BO’ and assumed Jerome Boateng was playing. It was only when it was actually read out that I realised it was me. I was quite shocked. I thought ‘wow, it’s me’ but I had to stay focused because I knew how hard this game was going to be.”
Despite such an impressive home Premier League debut, Boyata is aware that competition for places at Eastlands is high and he has a long way to go to establish himself as a regular in Roberto Mancini’s first team.
“I am not in a hurry,” he said. “I need to stay patient and I will wait for my chance. It is not a case of having a number of appearances in my mind for this season.
“Around me there are a lot of experienced players. I need to recognise that. As long as I can continue to do that, I am not even thinking about the number of appearances I make.”
The 19 year old has played a number of games in various cup competitions, including last season’s League Cup semi final against city rivals Manchester United, and he bagged his first senior goal in the recent Europa League win over Romanian side Timisoara.
Boyata was recently called up to the Belgian senior squad for the first time, joining club mate Vincent Kompany in the party for the friendly against Finland, and he has moved up the pecking order at City with Nedum Onuoha being loaned out to Sunderland for the season.
With his career now moving along at a much quicker pace than before, Boyata has admitted to feeling a little nervous but is also determined to rise to the challenges put before him.
“There is a bit of fear at first, but then you realise it is a chance to show what you can do against the best players,” he said. “You have to think about what they can do, then come up with a solution to stop them.
“But I get a lot of advice from Vincent Kompany and Kolo Toure. I see them every day in training and they are like big brothers to me. They always give me help and are a great part of my life.”
With City still challenging for honours on three fronts this season (Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup), Boyata should see plenty more first team action between now and May.