As far as early 18th birthday presents go, Wigan Athletic’s Tylor Golden did pretty well for his this week.
The rising star took his place in a youthful line-up to take on Middlesbrough under-21s in the 4-1 Checkatrade Trophy win, but his performance ensured his full debut was more than a frantic run out.
While Tuesday wasn’t Golden’s first experience of being involved with the senior team (he was an unused substitute against Scunthorpe United), the match was the first time the 17-year-old had run onto the pitch as a first team player.
And he couldn’t hide his delight with the breakthrough, two weeks before his 18th, that he has been aiming for since joining the club in 2014.
“I absolutely loved it to be honest,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for the opportunity, and it’s what I’ve been working towards for the last three to four years since I’ve been at Wigan through the academy” .
“The staff have helped me a lot to develop into the player I am now, so I’m really happy to make my debut, and hopefully there’s more to come.”
Golden shared the stage with first-teamers David Perkins, Reece James, Noel Hunt, Lee Evans and Ryan Colclough, and the youngster kept the pace, providing the cross for Hunt’s goal.
He hopes the experience of working with senior players at the League One high-flyers will help him improve.
“It’s amazing to be honest. Obviously the experience that they have and where they’ve played is unreal.” he explained. “They just pass that on down to us, and are really supportive guys.
“They are great lads who only want the best from us and only want to try and help us get even better by passing on their experience.
“You just see certain things that they do, so you pick off those things and try and bring them into your game as they’ve been in that competition for more than you have. You just want to try and adapt to that.”
Golden’s journey to Wigan has seen him go through spells with Manchester City, Rochdale, and tomorrow’s opponents Blackburn Rovers, and he was cheered on by a personal fan club at the DW on Tuesday.
Aware of the sacrifices he has made to get this far in his fledgling football career, he insists he wouldn’t have crossed the touchline without the support of his loved ones.
“My friends and family were here supporting me, and the support from them has been excellent throughout my whole life,” he said.
“They are always wanting the best for me, and doing what they can, making their own sacrifices so I can prosper for it.
“So I owe most of it to them and I wouldn’t be here without them.”
The experience of first team football has made Golden hungry for more, and he is obviously on Paul Cook’s radar given he has already earned a bench spot for a league game.
But the Ipswich-born right back isn’t taking being handed more chances for granted, and has vowed to keep working as hard as he has been since he
arrived at Wigan.
“I’m hoping that it’s the first of many, but it’s down to the gaffer, and down to the first team staff to make the decisions,” he said.
“Obviously I’ll be waiting and hoping that I’ll get another call up, and when I do I’ll give my all.”