Rotherham United boss Steve Evans travelled through the night to tie up the loan signing of Farrend Rawson and says the journey to the south coast was worth every mile.
The teenage centre-half was in action for Derby Under-21s at Southampton on Thursday evening, and the Millers manager made the trip to run a final check on the 18-year-old who had impressed him in previous youth-level outings.
Evans saw enough to convince him, and two days later Rawson was making his first ever appearance in senior football in Rotherham’s 2-0 Championship win at Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield.
“It was a long drive to watch him. but it was a pleasurable drive coming back knowing I was going to get him,” said Evans.
“I told young Faz to go and enjoy the applause at the end because you never, ever forget your Football League debut.
“To go into the Championship at 18, to go away from home in front of a great crowd - because that is what Huddersfield have got, a passionate crowd - and do as well as he did is wonderful.”
Rawson, who has signed a month-long youth loan deal, was a key reason why the Millers kept a first clean sheet since beating Ipswich in early February, and Evans paid tribute to the guidance the Rams prospect received from centre-half partner Kirk Broadfoot.
“We were settled at the back. We asked our centre-backs to win their headers and clear their lines. You don’t need to play football. I’m really, really pleased,” the Rotherham boss said.
“Kirk gets a lot of stick, undeservedly in my opinion. When you analyse the recent goals we’ve conceded, Kirk’s not been to blame, but people like a scapegoat. He’s done great. He’s used his experience and talked a young man through the game .”
Farrend is highly rated at Derby, where he is under the guidance of ex-Millers favourite Lee Glover who is in charge of the U-21s set-up at the iPro Stadium, and is considered a future first-team player for Steve McClaren’s promotion favourites.
“Faz is a young man who sticks his neck out and gets his head on things,” Evans said. “I’ve seen him three or four times for Derby U-21s and behind closed doors. He’s brave and he’ll get his head cut off to head it.
“I’m absolutely grateful to Steve McClaren, the Derby manager, for letting us take him - he’s become my best text friend - and to Lee Glover who manages the U-21s there. They both endorsed him coming here. And also to the Derby chief executive who made it happen in time when we realised on Friday afternoon that we wouldn’t have (midfielder) Paul Green.”