Sean Longstaff reveals what Rafa Benitez told him before he made his Premier League debut for Newcaslte
Sean Longstaff had a 'bittersweet' Premier League debut at Anfield.
The midfielder came off the bench in Newcastle United’s 4-0 Boxing Day defeat to Liverpool.
Longstaff – who had made his club debut in August’s Carabao Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest – replaced Kenedy in the 73rd minute.
United were trailing 2-0 at the time, and Xherdan Shaqiri and £44million substitute Fabinho scored late goals for Jurgen Klopp’s side, who went six points clear at the top of the league.
“It’s a bittersweet day again, a bit like the Carabao Cup game,” said the 21-year-old, likely to play in the club’s third-round FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers at St James’s Park on January 5.
“Obviously, we’ve got to do a better job of sticking in games when it does go 2-0 and do a better job of getting back in. We probably made it a bit too easy for them at that point, but for me to be able to come on play in one of the most iconic stadiums in the world ... it’s unbelievable. I’m a bit lost for words.
“I’m over the moon, but, a bit like the cup game, it’s a bittersweet day.”
Longstaff – who came up through the club’s Academy – had “butterflies” when United manager Rafa Benitez told him to get ready to come on.
Asked what was going through his mind as he waited to come on, Longstaff said: “I don’t know to be honest – I can remember – but I just know when the manager called us your stomach drops a little bit.
“You get a few butterflies. But, you know, coming on at 2-0 down, like the manager said to me – there’s no pressure on me.
“You get to make your debut once. He just said to go and enjoy it. I tried to do that, obviously. I didn’t help that they scored a couple more goals, but it’s always going to be tough when they’re on top.
“But it was a good day for me and I’m over the moon for my family who’ve helped us get here and coaches along the way.”
Newcastle fans chanted “Sean Longstaff, he’s one of our own” after he came on.
“I heard it briefly when I came on,” said Longstaff.
“It wasn’t until I was in the changing room after that the lads were saying they were chanting ‘if Longstaff scores, we’re on the pitch’.
“The lads were saying ‘imagine if that chance had went in’. Obviously, it is what it is, and for them to be signing about me ... I’ve been there singing about other players. It’s an unbelievable day ruined a little bit by the scoreline.
“In 10 or 20 years time, no-one’s going to remember that we got beat 4-0. I’ll remember making my debut. It’s a great day.”
Longstaff – who played for loan club Blackpool against Scunthorpe United last Boxing Day – is likely to get more opportunities over the coming weeks with Ki Sung-yueng away with South Korea ahead of the Asian Cup.