“Just The Beginning”
It's a fair old time since Heurelho Gomes made his professional debut as an elastic-limbed 21-year-old with Cruzeiro. Fifteen years, give or take a few months.
But after a lengthy, trophy-laden career that shows no sign of fading, the 36-year-old still remembers the importance of making a first-team bow.
After Saturday's disheartening Leicester defeat, the brightest note was an 84th minute substitute. Enter 18-year-old Dion Pereira.
Off the back of a season playing-up in the Hornets' Under-23s, Pereira cut an assured 10-minute showreel at the King Power which drew the fullest applause of the day from the travelling 'Orns at full-time.
And Gomes was glowing in his assessment of the winger, the fourth Academy prospect to be blooded in the first-team this season.
“He was excited, and he has to be,” said skipper-for-the-day Gomes.
“It's a big stage, and there's the possibility to keep working on his future.
“He's quiet, the players are always giving him advice but it's up to him to understand. This is the first time for him, but it can be just the beginning.”
The conveyor belt of Academy grads appearing for the first-team during the Golden Boys' years in the Championship has slowed with the increased pressure and quality of Premier League football, but Gomes stressed the youngsters at UCL must always be ready to take their chance.
“It's nice to see young players come through the Academy and play like Dion played today,” he said.
“We have to understand that the senior players are going to be first choice, but they have to be ready when we need them.
“They have to keep believing because you never know when the opportunity may come. These boys are ready to come through, to play in the Premier League. It's step-by-step. Age is not important if they have the quality and work hard.”