It took some severe adversity for Jonjoe Kenny to break through to the Everton first team, but one of the few positives Toffees can count on from this trainwreck of a season has been the emergence of the local-born youngster.
Speaking to The Telegraph before the Merseyside Derby on Sunday, the right back was diplomatic about the lack of chances he got under Ronald Koeman -
“I thought whatever he wanted he was right. I can’t go against what he was saying. I might not have played but I learned a lot about myself, and how to deal with disappointment. It made be a better person. Everyone sees different things in football. If you don’t like that then you are in the wrong sport. Some people aren’t going to take a liking to you.
“That isn’t personal, that’s life, it happens in every other job. If you can’t handle it then you need to learn to. At a young age getting a bit of disappointment has done me the world of good in terms of learning stuff. Things aren’t always going to go the way I want.
“Listen, your head is going to go down sometimes, that happens, but my family would never let me get too down. I was always getting belief that I could go and play for Everton. I owe a lot to Everton and you have to take the highs with the lows. When it is tough you shouldn’t take it too personally and be hard on yourself and when things are going well you have to enjoy them but stay grounded because you never know what is around the corner.”
Koeman did finally let him start, against Arsenal in the last game before the Dutchman was sacked -
“At first it is always tough. You go into a season after the World Cup feeling good. The chance did not come as quick as I wanted but that is part and parcel of football. You have to be patient and keep working hard. When the chances come you have to take them.
“You could say it was difficult but football is a mad game and things change quickly. When I came back and I was not playing it made me more determined. I played a few games for the Under-23s to keep my fitness up and to be ready because you never know when you are needed.”
The report goes on to add that Kenny is about to sign a new deal, and is looking to continue his starting run in the side that David Unsworth gave him.
“Unsy was brilliant for me. He knows my game and he put his trust in me and did not take me out of the team.
“When you get a few games on the bounce that is when you feel more comfortable and relaxed and can do what you are good at. That is what it is about. I owe everything to Unsy for believing me.”
The 20-year-old captained the Under-23s side to the Premier League 2 title last season, and then went on to lift the Under-20 World Cup earlier this summer, but there are few games bigger than the Merseyside Derby for a player who’s been a Blue since the age of nine.
“When the week is building up you can’t stop thinking about it. All my life the derby is the biggest game. Every season that is what you look for and don’t care if home and away.You just want to be involved in it. I can’t wait to play in a derby.
“It’s massive, the talk all week. No matter where you are in work everyone will bicker over it. My uncle and cousins are big Toffees, but there are a lot of Liverpool fans [in the family] and they will be letting me know. If I am playing it does not matter if they are Reds they will be supporting me because they have been with me my whole career. They won’t mind if I score a last-minute winner.”
After tomorrow, there is another chance to win at Anfield with the FA Cup Third Round fixture in January as well.
“I was made up. Why not?
“It is good for everyone. We need not to worry about what has happened in the past. How long we have not won there does not really matter. It is another game, we go there and we want to win. But it is all right saying words. We have to go and perform.”