Teenage Saints full-back Calum Chambers says he owes manager Mauricio Pochettino “everything” for giving him his chance in the first-team.
The 19-year-old made his Premier League debut on the opening day of the season, and has gone on to start 16 games in the competition this term.
Chambers has hailed the faith shown in him by Pochettino, who has been keen to promote many of the club’s most talented youngsters since arriving at St Mary’s.
Asked how much he owed his manager for giving him an opportunity, Chambers said: “Everything. He gave me my chance and I can’t thank him enough for that.
“He has given a lot of youngsters the opportunity and he is a fantastic manager for us.”
Chambers has shared right-back duties this season with Nathaniel Clyne, below right, who celebrates his 23rd birthday today.
While both players are battling for the same position, the more junior defender believes that rivalry has spurred both of them on.
“I think it is a really healthy competition between us two,” said Chambers.
“We push each other on and it is only going to make us better players. It is a good competition to have.”
The rapid progression of Chambers has been all the more impressive when you consider he used to play mainly as a central midfielder and only switched to right-back less than two years ago.
Yet, having been taken on the club’s pre-season tour last summer, his plan was always to try and become an established first-team member this term.
“That was my aim at the start of the season – to break into the first-team and play as many games as I can,” he said.
“I am really pleased with how the season is going for me and I have just got to keep going, keep my head down and keep working hard.
“Playing in a team like this, it can’t get much more enjoyable.”
Chambers started last Saturday’s 4-0 win against Newcastle, and will likely be handed the same role at Manchester City today.
He believes that Saints can emerge from the Etihad Stadium with something if they can replicate the sort of performance they produced against the Magpies.
“I think it was a fantastic performance from the team,” he said.
“We are really pleased with it and now we’re focusing on the next game, where hopefully we can do the same.
“We played the way we like to play and we stuck to our game plan. It came off.”