Mikel Merino says scoring his first Newcastle United goal was an “incredible” moment in his career.
The midfielder netted the club’s late winner against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Merino, signed on a permanent deal from Borussia Dortmund earlier this month, had started the game on the bench.
And the 21-year-old – who headed a deflected Matt Ritchie corner beyond Julien Speroni – was just happy to be able to play his part in the Premier League game.
“It’s a great feeling and really happy to have score my first (goal),” said Merino.
“I’m more than happy to have got three points too. I don’t score a lot of goals, but it is nice to have got this goal that has earned three points.
For me, it’s incredible to help the team and to see everyone celebrate it like this.Mikel Merino
“It doesn’t matter how you score as long as they go beyond the three posts.
“For me, it’s incredible to help the team and to see everyone celebrate it like this.
“It was tough game, this game. We could have lost or won, small details.
“It was important for us to keep going in the right direction in the league.”
Merino, initially signed on a season-long loan, has been a revelation this season.
The Spain Under-21 international quickly adjusted to the physicality and intensity of Premier League football after being pitched in after the dismissal of Jonjo Shelvey in the club’s season-opener against Tottenham Hotspur.
And fans have lauded Merino for his performances in midfield.
Merino, however, insists he’s not getting carried away.
“It’s always good to hear nice things about you, but you don’t have to think too much about things like that,” said the Pamplona-born player.
“It’s important to stay relaxed and focused on what you’re doing. Maybe some days you don’t play as well and you’re told you are a bad player. I’m grateful for that.
“I just have to say thanks to everyone for believing in me and I want to carry on.”
Merino hopes to play for his country at senior level,
“As a player, you always want to have big ambitions, to think and dream big,” said Merino.
“I’m no different. I’m not going to say I want to do this or that, because I am just young. I have other things to do first.
“The important thing is to think about the small steps – they could lead to bigger things like the national team at some point.
“I just want to care about this team, my team-mates and improving. I think dreams will be filled if I do the right job.”
Merino joined Newcastle looking to play after a frustrating season on the fringes at Dortmund.
And he believes he’s at the right club, at the right time.
“I’m in the right place, because I have the confidence from the coach, the people and my team-mates,” said Merino.
“I’m happy here, the way they live here, the type of city and the people in it. Now I’m happy here, and I think that’s good for me.”