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Mason Holgate chooses five matches that shaped his Everton career

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Barnsley (a) August 2015 - Holgate is named in an Everton squad for the first time after signing from Barnsley

"I was really young and came to Everton having been playing every week at Barnsely, so I thought that's how things were going to pan out.

"That's how you see things but it never worked out like that. It wasn't how I envisaged it going. But, at the time, I wasn't really surprised to be named in the squad for that game.

"I had moved to Everton two weeks before so going back to Barnsley that night meant I got to go back and see everybody and say my goodbyes. I was going home too, as I'd been there since I was six. I felt weird going back with a different team.

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"One of my jobs as a scholar at Barnsley was to clean the away dressing room at Oakwell so it was very strange to go in there as part of the away team.

"It would've been nice to get on that night but that's the way it goes sometimes as a defender. I was lucky enough to go back in a pre-season game and I got a good reception when I came off."

Tottenham Hotspur (h) August 2016 - Holgate makes his Premier League debut

"At the beginning of that pre-season, I thought I would be going out on loan, due to not playing the season before.

"We came back for the first week of training and then went to Austria and Koeman pulled me straight away and said I was going to be involved and that I couldn't go on loan.

"I wanted to be part of the first-team but had thought it probably best for me to go out on loan, at the time, to play competitive first-team football because I'd been with the under-23s.

"But I played in every pre-season game that summer and I felt like I was a proper part of the first-team then. And in the last couple of pre-season games I was thinking: 'I might have a chance of playing against Spurs'.

"I can't thank Koeman enough for showing the faith in me. It was great for me but a big decision for him to start someone who had not played in the Premier League before.

"I trained with the first-team for a while and was at that level but games are different. But two weeks earlier we had played Man United at Old Trafford in Rooney's testimonial and, for a pre-season game, that was a close as we could get to a Premier League match. And so after the game I felt I was ready to play against these players.

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"I think I was doing ok in the game but I remember letting Lamela get in around me and it was a big learning curve. You can think you are doing well and then something can just happen in the Premier League. It wasn't nice at the time."

Atalanta (a) September 2017 - Holgate is handed his European debut in Everton's Europa League opener in Italy

"This wasn't a nice game to be involved in.

"They were a really good team and they caught us by surprise because we didn't expect them to be as good as they were.

"Looking back now, it was another big part of my learning and me realising that things were not going to be straight forward.

"It was a real, real difficult game. I played at right-back and all week Koeman had been talking about Gomez was their dangerman and how he liked cutting in from the left, onto his right foot. He found the top corner from 30 yards doing exactly that.

"It was definitely a wake-up call and not nice at all but you learn from it.

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"But, again, I have to thank Koeman, as a man and a manager, for having the faith in me to play me in Europe."

Brighton (a) October 2019 - Injury to Yerry Mina hands Holgate's first league start of the season

"I definitely had a point to prove.

"I'd only played a couple of games up to that point, and that was it.

"I had been playing every week at West Brom in the second-half of the previous season and so I was used to playing.

"All of a sudden I wasn't playing but I handled it completely differently this time, to how I did in 2016.

"I was younger then but this time, when I came back from loan I knew I wasn't going to be starting so I just trained so hard and worked in the gym so hard.

"When the window closed and the squad had just three centre-backs I knew that at some point in the season I would get my chance and so it was all about being right and taking the chance when I got it.

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"The boys will be able to vouch for how hard I was working to make sure that I was ready when the chance came. You can't look for excuses about getting back up to match speed.

"I was champing at the bit to play. Your performance always looks better when you've got an assist and people always view it as you having a better game but I thought I defended well that game, even though the result was disappointing.

"My performance gave me a lot of confidence. There were a lot of people saying, at the time, I wasn't good enough and that I was a Championship player. But to be able to put in a performance like that said to everyone: 'I'm here and I'm ready to play' and I put doubt in the manager's mind.

"It was from there that I was given a run of games and was able to stake a claim to play every week. That's all I wanted to do. Things weren't going too well at the time but I just stood up and said: 'I'm ready and want to play'."

Burnley (h) December 2019 - Holgate's first game under Ancelotti

"The manager didn't really have much time to get his points across before that first game.

"The message was: 'keep doing what you have been doing and try and get the win'.

"You are trying to impress him, of course, and on the first of second day of training he spoke to me.

"'I've seen you play in a lot of different positions, but which position do you see yourself playing? Left centre-back, right centre-back, right-back, central midfield..?'

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"It was good to know that he had seen me play before and good to know he wanted to know what I was thinking.

"I'd played centre-midfield only a couple of weeks before but I told him centre-back but said I was happy to play anywhere he wanted me to, as I'd played in pretty much all the positions along the backline.

"We got the win and a clean sheet that day, which is never easy in the Prem and after the game I thought to myself: 'I may get another chance next week to prove to him what I can do'".




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