Midfielder Max Bird has become a consistent member of the Derby County starting line-up in recent weeks and he is loving every moment of it.
The 19-year-old has started all but one of the Rams’ league games in 2020 and has excelled with his performances in the middle of the park.
He has earned rave reviews from manager Phillip Cocu, his team-mates, supporters, pundits and journalists for his impressive run of form.
In his latest game against Fulham on Friday night, he went ever so close to netting his first professional goal for the club, but he was denied by visiting goalkeeper Marek Rodak.
All of this has proven that he is more than ready to make the step up from the Academy to the first-team and he is loving every minute of it so far.
“All I am trying to do in every game is play to the best of my ability and put in 100% effort, which is what I’ve been brought up to do through the Academy,” he told RamsTV, following the 1-1 draw against Fulham.
“It’s the golden rule to work hard both on and off the field and now I am just looking to cement my place in the team.
“Football can change with the click of a finger so I need to keep my head down, keep my feet on the ground and keep going.
“I grew up wanting to play first team football. You sit in the stands watching games and learning, training week in, week out and on a daily basis and it’s what you dream of doing.
“When I come into training, I think that no day is taken for granted. I don’t want to come out with any regrets and that’s how I’m looking at things.”
His attitude to playing the game is endearing. His will to improve and succeed should send clear messages to any aspiring footballers that anything can be achieved with hard work and determination.
And his mind is completely focused on helping the Rams try and pick up more positive results between now and the end of the season.
“We know that we should be higher in the league but we have got some big games coming up against teams above us in the league,” he said.
“We know that our away form hasn’t been great this season but our home form has been fantastic. The fans were unbelievable tonight and they were pushing us for that second goal.
“On another day we would have got it, but we have got some good confidence going into the next couple of games.
“We have got a day off tomorrow, but we will be back in Sunday training and looking forward to the game against QPR. If we play like we did against Fulham then we will give ourselves a great chance to get three points.”