When Aaron Wan-Bissaka entered the fray in the 59th minute of the 2-0 defeat to Liverpool on Wednesday night, it was a moment that the youngster will never forget as he finally got to play for the Eagles first-team.
Having been named on the bench four times in Premier League matches last season, the wing-back got his chance to represent the club where he has progressed through the ranks since the age of 11. Despite playing in front of nearly 40,000 fans against one of the world’s most famous names, he shone during his half-hour of playing time, and loved every second of it.
Speaking post-match, he said of his debut: “I’m over the moon because it’s something I’ve always dreamed of since I was a kid and obviously it’s now come true so I’m glad it’s happened. At the beginning when I came on it was hard but I got into it and felt fine. I was confident on the ball, getting forward and also defending so everything went alright.
“We were unlucky in the second half; they got a little nick and got a shot off and then after that our heads went down a bit but we still tried to get back into the game, so hopefully we’ll have a better time in the next one.”
Wan-Bissaka was one of a number of the Eagles’ development squad who featured during the second half, with Nya Kirby also making his first appearance for the senior side while fellow academy graduate Michael Phillips got his first major taste of action since he played against Farnborough Town last summer.
That made the evening even more special for Wan-Bissaka as he got to share the moment with someone that he has known ever since he walked through the doors of the Eagles academy all those years ago. However, he is equally enjoying being involved amongst the first-team stars and beginning to feel at home in that group, with this trip in particular aiding that.
“It’s good because we’re all of a similar age group and we’re used to playing together,” he added. “With Michael I’ve been playing with him since the under-11s and we used to go to football together so it’s nice to have those kind of players in the side with me.
“I’m getting used to being around the first-team now because I’ve trained with them a lot and spent time around them off the field so I’m really enjoying it. The manager has told us all that there is a chance for us here to impress, and that’s what I want to take so I’ll keep going.”