Aristote Nsiala: Ex-Everton youngster says 'it's a man's game' outside top flight
Aristote Nsiala was only an interested spectator as Everton's latest group of talented youngsters earned rave reviews against Manchester City on Sunday.
Although he once enjoyed dreams of such heroics himself, the 23-year-old ex-Everton apprentice is still happy to be part of football reality.
The Shrewsbury Town defender, who left Everton in 2012, said: "It's a man's game and you have to learn quickly.
"Playing at a young age with Everton, you live in the bubble," he added.
"You're just happy playing in the Under-21s and enjoying the life. A goal goes in, you learn from it, then you go again. So many players at a young age think they've got the world at their feet, but it's not like this."
Teenagers Tom Davies and Ademola Lookman, who recently joined Everton from League One side Charlton for £11m, both scored as the Toffees beat City 4-0 at Goodison Park.
After loans at Macclesfield and Accrington Stanley during his three years in Everton's professional ranks, Nsiala had to find his feet fast after being released at the age of 20 - to sign on a more permanent basis for Stanley.
"As soon as I left Everton and went to Accrington, I realised what the football world was all about," Nsiala, who did not play a first-team game for Everton, told BBC Radio Shropshire.
"Every pass has to be perfect. If you make a mistake, it kills you for the whole week.
"There are so many fans against you and so many players who want to take your spot. You've got to perform every game. That's the difference between being here and at Everton. It's your living. Every goal that goes in kills me."
Nsiala's renaissance after nightmare debut
It does not take long in football for fortunes to turn, as Nsiala found out when he was sent off on his Shrewsbury debut at Swindon on 7 January.
Less than a week after being signed for Shrewsbury by his former Grimsby Town manager Paul Hurst, Nsiala was red-carded for a challenge in the penalty area on Luke Norris.
But Town came back to draw with 10 men, Nsiala's red card was overturned on appeal and he then enjoyed a clean sheet on his home debut in Saturday's 1-0 win over promotion-chasing Bradford City.
"I feel at home already," said Nsiala. "I learnt a lot at Grimsby from the gaffer and (Hurst's assistant) Chris Doig. I'm glad I've got the chance to play for them again. The gaffer said he wanted the place to change and put smiles on faces and he's done that."
The Kinshasa-born centre-back, who shares his native French tongue with Town's Swiss goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler, has been overlooked since making his international debut for DR Congo in a qualifier for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
For the moment, Nsiala is interested in only club, not country. "I want to be stable here before I can even think about it," he said.