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Under-21s

Ibsen Rossi Makes Killie Pro Debut

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Zeno Ibsen Rossi completed a personal milestone as he made his professional debut in Kilmarnock's 4-0 win over Dundee United on Saturday.

The 19-year-old, on loan from the Cherries for the season, played the full 90 minutes at Rugby Park as Killie picked up their first Scottish Premiership win of the season with a resounding performance.

Six weeks after arriving in East Ayrshire, Ibsen Rossi forced his way into manager Alex Dyer's line-up, albeit as a full-back and not in his usual central defensive position.

"I found out I was in a couple of hours before the game," Ibsen Rossi explained to afcb.co.uk. "In training I'd played at right-back so I started thinking I should be ready, just in case. Then the manager told us the team the on the day of the game.

"I didn't want to treat it any differently to any other game, I sent my family a text and then put my phone down, put it away. I knew that if I got caught up in that I might get over excited so instead I prepared as for any game. 

"The game went well, I felt comfortable at right-back. At Bournemouth I played in a back three quite often and we always trained in other positions, that helps you fit in and know your job in different roles.

"Winning 4-0 was a great result - and with a clean sheet as well it was a good way to start, a great experience for me in my first professional game, I'll not forget this one.

"We had been playing quite well but not getting the results, for me to be part of the first win on top of the feeling of making my debut was really good.

"The manager congratulated me, said I did well and looked comfortable for my first professional game, everyone was really nice and they gave me a round of applause after the game.

"I'm not going to be getting ahead of myself now, thinking I'll be playing every week, I'm trying to set a marker down now and push on from there.

"I got some nice messages from friends, family and my team-mates at Bournemouth. My family were really proud and happy, but I couldn't really celebrate too much."

The landmark appearance comes at the end of a tough footballing journey for a player still in his teens.

Released by Southampton at 16, Ibsen Rossi also suffered a serious injury early in his time with the Cherries which saw him the miss the majority of a season while he was still trying to make his mark in the club's youth set-up.

"After the game I had a bit of a moment," said the defender, reflecting on his battle to make it. "I was thinking it's been a bit of a roller coaster to get here, getting released, going through a long-term injury when I was young.

"I think those things have helped me to get stronger and help me get here, and as I've got closer to this point I've realised what that's given me.

"I've been reflecting on that and how grateful I am for everything that's happened to help me to get here."

With a week off due to internationals, Kilmarnock and Ibsen Rossi next travel to Pittodrie to take on Aberdeen, with the teenager enjoying the challenge in Scotland but knowing he still has to consistently show his best.

He said: "It's quite different up here, a different experience but I'm really enjoying it. The atmosphere being around the first team is different to being with the under-21s at Bournemouth.

"Coming up here as a young, inexperienced player you almost have something extra to prove.

"As a loanee in training I feel I need to prove myself even more than a new player coming in, that was tough to start with but I've enjoyed the challenge, with the manager telling us that if we train well and are patient we'll get our chance.

"That's exactly what's happened so now I just need to keep pushing."

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