Chelsea youngster Mason Mount has revealed he took inspiration from a trip to Old Trafford to see Cristiano Ronaldo as a nine-year-old, and he is hoping to have a similar impact when the Blues take on Manchester United on Sunday.
As a boyhood Portsmouth fan, Mount made the trip to the north-west with his father shortly after signing schoolboy forms with Chelsea. What he saw that day has remained with him ever since.
Today, the midfielder heads to the same stadium with a very different mission in mind as he looks to force his way into Frank Lampard’s starting XI and forge his own reputation as a playmaker and influencer in the middle of the park.
Early signs suggest the 20-year-old is on the right track, and a recent transfer ban imposed at Chelsea has inadvertently aided the likes of Mount in his pursuit of regular first-team football.
While he’s focused on his side’s Premier League opener against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men this weekend, the England Under-21 international can’t hold back the nostalgia as he reflects on watching a certain Portuguese winger against his hometown club back in 2008.
“It was the first time I’d ever been to Old Trafford,” Mount told Chelsea’s official website, “but there were good and bad memories for me.
“I went as a Portsmouth fan and we lost the game. I remember watching Cristiano Ronaldo and he scored this unbelievable free-kick – it was one of the best goals I’ve ever seen live.
“It was great for me to watch him as one of the best players in the world and that really motivated me as a young boy.
“I remember going to training the next couple of days and trying to recreate the free-kick. I was only young so I couldn’t really kick it that far, but when you watch something like that then you want to add it into your own game.
“It motivates you to practise and try to replicate it in a game situation.”
Fast-forward a decade, and Mount was back at the famous stadium under very different circumstances while on-loan at Derby County.
Under the watchful eye of Lampard, who managed the Rams before making the switch to Chelsea this summer, Derby dumped United out of the League Cup on penalties – one of which was netted by Mount himself.
“I’ve got some unbelievable memories from that day and that game,’ he added.
“It was early in the season and we went there as the underdogs, but I felt like we had more freedom and less pressure.
“We played so well and should have won in normal time but they equalised really late on. We had to show character in the penalty shoot-out but we showed our quality and it was really the game that kicked us on to do well in the cup and the league.”
And when recalling his all-important spot-kick, he said: “I didn’t feel pressure or look at the crowd, it was just me taking a penalty against a keeper.
“I’ve always liked to go first from a young age because my dad told me to set the good example and hopefully give your team-mates confidence. I knew where I wanted to put it in my head, went for the top corner and it went in!”