'Brandon made me think: 'Why can't I do it?'
Teden Mengi has revealed that Brandon Williams's rise to prominence inspired him to earn his own opportunity in the Manchester United first team.
The youngster came on in the latter stages of the Reds' 2-1 Europa League victory over Austrian side LASK, becoming the 929th player to represent the club at senior level.
And when asked if manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's proactive approach to blooding young players had given him a lift, he replied: "Of course. Especially Brandon, because we both play in defence. So when I saw him kicking on, it made me even hungrier. It made me think: why can't I do it? Obviously I got my opportunity today."
Mengi admitted his cameo was "the moment of my life so far", but the defender then stressed that he wants this to be merely the start of his journey, not a culmination.
“It was a brilliant moment, I loved it,” Mengi told club media, after replacing Tim Fosu-Mensah in the 84th minute. “My mum said she was crying – I've already checked my phone!
“Obviously, it's a great feeling. I'd like to thank everyone that's been around me, supported me, from my family, all my team-mates. Everyone in the first team made it very easy for me. Everyone was very welcoming. But the Academy staff as well. Also, I'd like to thank the manager for giving me the opportunity. But, again, it's just the start. It's down to myself now to just keep on kicking on. But yeah, I'm very happy with it.”
The local lad looked set to come on for the final 10 minutes, but endured a frustrating wait when the ball refused to go out of play and allow the required change to take place.
“The ball wouldn't go out,” he smiled, “but I was just thinking: it's my moment, so I've just got to be patient. Everyone dreams about it. It's everyone's dream to come on at Old Trafford for the biggest club in the world. Luckily enough I got the chance today, so I'm really chuffed with it.
“Everyone was telling me before the game and during half-time: 'just be ready'. So that's what I did; I was ready. When I came on, everyone was telling me 'Come on Teden, it's your moment now', so I took it well.”
The only bittersweet element to the evening for Mengi was that his friends and family could not enjoy his maiden United appearance in person, due to the behind-closed-doors status of the fixture.
"It's a big shame really, because my mum pestered me all the time," Teden explained. "She said: 'If you ever make your debut at Old Trafford, I'm going to be there watching you.' It's a shame she couldn't be here today, but, again, it's the moment of my life so far - time to kick on."