Albion prospect Rohan Ince has thanked departed boss Oscar Garcia for igniting his career.
Ince has become a first team regular and won the young player of the season award after Oscar converted him from a centre-half into a central midfielder.
The 21-year-old former Chelsea trainee revealed to The Argus: “It was literally a brief moment. I had a match for the DS (development squad), a friendly match in pre-season, and I was playing centre-back.
“I was kind of driving out into midfield quite a bit. I was training with the first team next session in an 11-a-side match. Oscar just walked by, tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘You’re playing midfield today’.
“I started off as a midfielder at Chelsea up until I was 16, then I was changed to a centre-back because of my height and physical attributes.
“I went back and forwards between midfield and defence in my Chelsea career but I came here as a centre-back because that’s where I thought my career would be best.
- Look who Albion will be up against
- Newcastle back on top, but Albion nine points clear of fourth
- Title race not on the agenda for Stockdale
- Hughton plays it cool after Albion go top
- Joint boss Strevens quits Hawks - and returns to Eastleigh
“Obviously Oscar didn’t believe that and I am happy he didn’t believe it either, because midfield is my preferred position.
“He has given me the opportunity to play first team football, in my preferred role as well, so I couldn’t be more grateful.
“If you had told me last year I would achieve what I have I’d say you were lying. It’s a dream come true.”
Jake Forster-Caskey and Solly March, who also made first team breakthroughs under Oscar, are with Gareth Southgate’s England under-21s in France for the Toulon tournament. They have a minimum of four matches, starting tonight against Qatar.