Tim Fosu-Mensah has come a long way since he was a ball-boy at Ajax, studiously watching Daley Blind perform for the first team as a schoolboy prospect and nervously approaching the defender to request his boots.
On Thursday night, the Manchester United defender lined up alongside his colleague in Paris as France took on the Netherlands in a World Cup qualifier. It marked the 19-year-old's competitive debut for his country although the result went against Holland following the sending off of Kevin Strootman.
Since joining Crystal Palace on loan last month, Fosu-Mensah has been in good form, even if the Eagles have made a slow start to the campaign. This continued at the Stade de France and he must be confident of keeping his place for Sunday's visit of Bulgaria.
When recalling those early days at Ajax with ManUtd.com, Fosu-Mensah said:"Daley is a bit older than me, so when he was in the second team, maybe I was in the Under-15s or Under-14s. And, when he was in the first team, I was in the Under-16s. Then, I was a ball-boy, so I watched him a lot.
"Obviously that involves being at the side of the pitch and Daley played left-back, so I got to see him quite close up. I asked for Daley’s boots but he doesn’t remember! I think it was a Champions League game against Dortmund.
"I was ball-boy for the games against Real Madrid and Dortmund and I asked for his boots and he gave them to me. I was trying to make a little collection and those were my first Champions League boots, so they are pretty special. At that time, I was already a bigger size than him [laughs]."
Although the versatile defender will be hoping results pick up for Palace and the Netherlands, he can be well pleased with his own performances as he bids to make his mark in 2017/18 and return to Old Trafford with more first-team experience under his belt.
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