Morgan Whittaker felt that Derby County’s Under-19s made the ideal start to their European campaign on Wednesday in Belarus.
The 18-year-old was the match-winner against FC Minsk with his two goals earning victory, with the second in particular catching the eye.
It was Whittaker’s sixth goal in just seven appearances in all competitions this season, but he was keen to point out that the positive outcome was the result of a team effort.
He said: “It’s the perfect way to start this campaign, hopefully we have started as we mean to go on.
“Two goals always makes you happy as an attacker, it helps the team and we can take [the win] back to Derby and hopefully succeed from there.
“I got the goals but it all comes down to the hard work of the team, defending well and keeping the ball out at the other end.
“We [the forwards] will get the credit, but it’s the whole team.”
Justin Walker pointed out in his post-match interview that the spirit of this team - having won the Under-18s Premier League last season - is very impressive, and Whittaker echoed that statement.
“The boys handled it really well, it’s a hard place to come, a hard environment and we dealt with it very well,” he explained.
“Carrying on from last year, the morale and togetherness is top class and it hasn’t been much different because it’s such a tight group.
“That’s what we showed today, we have eachother’s backs and even off the pitch, we are all together.”
Every Derby player was making their UEFA Youth League debut and they certainly rose to the challenge, and different experiences both on and off the pitch.
Whittaker believes that the journey in this competition will stand the team in good stead, should they reach the level that they aspire to later in their careers.
“It opened our eyes to a different experience and a different type of football.
“As you get older, that’s the type of experience we will face and if we want to play in the Champions League at senior level, this will happen and it’s a taste of that.”