Over the past 20 years, Everton has cultivated a number of young starlets such as Wayne Rooney, Kevin Campbell, Tim Cahill, Leighton Baines and Ross Barkley.
However, it will soon be time for a new Toffee to emerge and take the spotlight. That man is 20-year-old defender Mason Holgate.
The Englishman spent last season playing every minute for the Everton Under-21 side in the league, and during pre-season this summer, impressed new Toffees’ boss Ronald Koeman enough to be called up the first-team. The Dutchman immediately threw Holgate in at the deep end, giving him his Premier League debut against Tottenham in the opening fixture of the season.
He remained in the side for the next two weeks and thoroughly impressed. However, since the return to fitness of new arrival Ashley Williams, he has had to make do with a place on the bench. His calmness, speed and determination are first rate and, despite a few moments of inexperience, the defender has the Everton faithful very excited about his potential.
The centre-back was born in Doncaster and spent his youth career at local side Barnsley. During the 2014/15 campaign, he was given his first-team debut and went on to make regular appearances, having no problems adapting, and won the Young Player of the Year award.
That summer, Holgate was snapped up by Everton for a mere £2m, a fee that now looks to be a real bargain! His journey to Everton from Barnsley puts him on an incredibly similar track to that of current Manchester City player John Stones, who completed the identical move in January 2013. Holgate will, no doubt, be hoping for a similar success story.
And, he is certainly on his way there. After the youngster’s effortless transition to Premier League level this term, he earned himself a call up to the England Under-21 side. His debut came in a 1-0 victory against Kazakhstan earlier this month. It seems only a question of time until he is called up to the currently underwhelming senior side.
It’s been a rapid rise for Mason Holgate, but the up and coming defender has his head screwed on. Speaking to the FA whilst on international duty, he said, “It’s been a mad couple of years for me.
“I’d just moved to Everton pretty much the first time I came here [St. George’s Park] for an international with the Under-20s, so that last two years have been mad, from when I was in Barnsley’s academy to being here now and playing for the U21s and Everton.
“…but I’m just concentrating on myself and I just want to keep doing well.”