EDS defender Shay Facey is relishing the chance to enhance his career development as he makes history with New York City FC.
The England youth international has been handed the chance to train with City’s sister club and seized it in style, showing off his considerable talent and work ethic to Head Coach Jason Kreis well enough to be rewarded with a starting berth for the club’s first ever friendly clash.
Facey has adjusted seamlessly to the stringent demands of a first team environment and is enjoying every minute of the experience – which he believes is key to producing his best form.
He told mcfc.co.uk: “It's a strange feeling. People were tweeting me after the game, telling me I'd made history and I wasn't really aware of it.
“But I know it’s a big thing for the club and I’m really happy to be a part of that. I’ve felt really happy in the training sessions and playing against Saint Mirren, and that's the main thing - to be happy when you're playing because that's when you play at your best.
“There's a lot going on and there's a lot of media attention around New York. The players are focused though because it’s not long before the season starts and Jason wants everyone to be ready.”
A nominee for the 2013/14 EDS Player of the Year award for his assured and confident displays at the heart of defence, the youngster was keen to bolster his footballing CV with a spell of pre-season training with New York – a move that was quick to receive Patrick Vieira’s seal of approval.
The EDS boss recommended the high standard of training and attractive playing style already evident in the embryonic stages of NYCFC’s development could be the ideal platform for Facey to further his development.
“Patrick and I spoke about it with my representative and we discussed how it could be a good step for me to progress onwards,” Shay declared.
“I trust him and value his opinion, so if this is what is going to help me go to the next step, that's what I'm going to do.
“Everyone's different and everyone needs different things in different times for their progression but for me, it’s been great to train with players who are quite physical and of a high standard. The style is very similar to what I’m used to at City too, because Jason likes to have lots of possession and pass out from the back a lot – which is really helpful for me.
“What Jason asks us to do is not too alien to anybody so everyone's catching on to it and I think it’s working well, playing that style of football.”
Responding positively to the pressures of competing with first team players, the 20-year-old Mancunian wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the experience.
He added: “It's a first-team environment which is a lot different to what the lads will be used to with Patrick. I know Patrick tries to create that environment for the boys but you can’t really replicate the fact that here you're on your own, competing for someone else's place so it's a lot more serious.
“I'd definitely recommend it, 100%!”
Facey played the first 45 minutes of NYCFC’s historic first win on Tuesday night against Scottish Premiership outfit St Mirren, and is hoping to clock up more minutes when Brondby visit the Academy Stadium on Sunday.
The centre back has his sights firmly set on two clean sheets in two games to end the Manchester leg of pre-season on a high, but he admits the performance takes precedence over results at this stage.
He revealed: “We're looking for another good team display - the same as against Saint Mirren. We will set out to keep the ball and have a lot of possession because that's the way we want to play.
“We'd like a clean sheet too if possible but the performance is the main thing rather than the result. The boys are looking to improve as a team all the time.”
New York City are next in action against Brondby at the Academy Stadium on Sunday 15 February, kick off at noon, and you can be there to cheer them on with tickets priced at just £5 for adults, £3 for Cityzens and $1 (65p) for children.
Junior Cityzens can attend for free if accompanied by a paying adult.
Full details here.