Jamaal Lascelles has to pinch himself sometimes when he drives past St James’s Park.
After all, aged 23, he is captain of Newcastle United.
Lascelles is, comfortably, the youngest captain in the Premier League.
What’s more, the defender took the armband when he was just 22 ahead of one of the most important seasons in the club’s recent history.
It’s kind of a big deal, and Lascelles knows it.
“It’s obviously a massive deal,” said Lascelles. “Sometimes I’ll drive past the ground, look at the stadium and think ‘I’m the captain of this club – it’s unbelievable’.”
Lascelles’ team-mates, as well as manager Rafa Benitez and the club’s fans, have helped him tackle the role.
“I’ve got good people around me, very supportive,” said the Derby-born player.
“Obviously, the fans are a big help and the manager’s got a lot of trust in me.
“People have made it easier than maybe I thought it would be.
It’s obviously a massive deal. Sometimes I’ll drive past the ground and look at the stadium and think ‘I’m the captain of this club, it’s unbelievable’.Jamaal Lascelles
“I used to think ‘who am I to tell a 28-year-old senior pro?’, because when I’m 28 there won’t be any 23-year-old’s telling me, that’s for sure!
“I used to think that, but we’ve got good lads, and it’s only for a good cause.”
Lascelles’s efforts in leading the club to the Championship title last season were recognised at the weekend.
The defender was “honoured” by a fans’ flag raised in the Gallowgate end of St James’s Park before Saturday’s game against Crystal Palace.
“I didn’t know it was going to be up there,” said Lascelles, who signed a new contract earlier this month keeping him at the club until 2023.
“I saw it and I double-looked – that’s serious, that.
“For them to make a flag of me, I do feel quite honoured for that. Thank you.
“And I thank them as well for nominating me as player of the month, but I couldn’t have received that reward if all the boys weren’t doing their jobs.”
Newcastle beat Palace 1-0 to climb up to seventh place in the Premier League.
Substitute Mikel Merino decided a scrappy game with an 85th-minute header.
“We knew it was going to be difficult,” said Lascelles.
“Palace haven’t been doing great this season, but they got a good win against Chelsea, and we thought that they’d be coming into this game with a lot of confidence. They did.
“Our teamtalk was ‘start the game fast, get them on the back foot’. That’s what we did, and eventually things started to fall for us.
“Every game we’ve played, we’ve had chances. If we’re tight down the other end, which we were (against Palace), these clean sheets will win you things.”
On the clean sheet, Lascelles added: “We work so hard in training, I definitely think it’s helping us out, just because of how intense we are. We’re a young team with an average of 25. You can see on pitch that we’re very intense and we’re all very passionate.”