Fulham boss Chris Coleman predicted a bright future for Zesh Rehman after the teenage defender made history on Saturday by becoming the first Asian player to start a Barclays Premiership match.
Rehman made his Fulham debut against Boston in the Carling Cup last month while an injury to Ian Pearce against Aston Villa seven days ago saw him register his first Premiership appearance as an 11th minute substitute.
But his first league start – and home debut – did not arrive until yesterday when he featured at centre-back in a watertight defensive display which saw the Cottagers claim only their third clean sheet of the season in a 2-0 win over Tottenham.
The 21-year-old Muslim – born in Birmingham but a product of Fulham’s academy system – gave an impressive performance alongside Zat Knight, earning lavish praise from Coleman who has been impressed by the player’s professional attitude.
“Zesh is a great athlete. His attitude to the game is incredible. He studies the sport, studies his performances, trains like a demon and never misses a training sessions,” said the Welshman.
“He always asks question and wants advice, not just from me but from his fellow professionals. I remember when he was 17 he asked if he could clean my boots, which is rare these days because apprentices no longer have to do that, which I think is bad.
“I said yes and he would then take the opportunity to ask me questions every week. He’s so into the game and his approach is brilliant for a 21-year-old kid – he doesn’t go out, doesn’t drink, rests as much as he can and loves the sport.
“He’s desperate to make it in the Premiership and his last few performances suggest to me that he’s going in the right direction.”