On an otherwise disappointing afternoon at Upton Park last Saturday, the appearance of teenage striker Moussa Dembélé was an undoubted highlight.
The 17-year-old stepped off the bench as an 83rd-minute replacement for Kieran Richardson, but with Fulham trailing 2-0 to West Ham United it wasn’t quite the debut the young Frenchman had hoped for.
With the Hammers claiming a third late on, and Dembélé picking up an injury, he was naturally quick to draw on the positives of the moment.
“It was a frustrating result, and because of the knock I couldn’t get involved as frequently as I would have liked,” said Moussa to fulhamfc.com. “We have to move on from the defeat and hopefully put things right with a good performance against Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa this week.
“On a personal level, though, it was a special occasion for me - making my professional debut is something I’d dreamed about for a long time. When you start out as a kid and you start playing for clubs, that’s the target.
“I’d been involved with the senior players over the last few weeks and was named on the bench for the game against Swansea City the previous week. I got the impression that I might play some part at West Ham, and that proved to be the case.
“The feeling when I stepped across the line and on to the pitch was incredible. It was a magical experience and one that I’ll never forget. I really appreciate the opportunity that I was given and hopefully I will be involved again at some point. It would be great to run out in front of the fans at Craven Cottage.”
The Parisian has continually turned heads this term, scoring for fun when running out for the Club’s Under-18 and Under-21 squads. Last season, his first with the Whites following his move from Paris Saint-Germain, ended with the striker scoring all three goals in the 3-0 Under-18 Premier League National Final defeat of Reading.
“I haven’t been at the Club for very long, so things have progressed very quickly,” added Moussa. “I didn’t think I would be making my First Team debut at this point, but I’ve been working really hard and scoring goals.
“My coaches in the Academy have always pushed me to work hard, to develop my potential. You have to listen and do the right things. I’ve learned so much from the likes of Steve Wigley, Kit Symons and the others, and I know that there’s still a lot more for me to learn.
“Working with the senior players has helped, too. I think the experience has been good for me. I’m not taking anything for granted, though, I just want to work on becoming the best player that I can be. There’s still a long way to go yet.”