Nathan Ferguson has thanked Slaven Bilić for the chance to ignite a career which is now blossoming in Albion’s top-of-the-table challenge.
The 19-year-old was preparing himself for a loan move in pursuit of first-team football when Albion’s Head Coach elevated him into his plans.
Since then the Academy graduate has not looked back and now sees himself being talked about as a genuine star of the future.
After his second Man of the Match performance of the season at Preston this week, Nathan told WBA TV: “People don’t actually understand how many games there are in a season, especially in this time period, but sometimes I have time to sit back - I really feel blessed to be given this opportunity.
“It’s very strange, especially because in my mind I was thinking about going out on loan at the start of the season. So to actually be given an opportunity and stay in the team, it’s been very good.
“It’s hard to explain but it’s been quite tough. You have to try and adapt quite quickly.
“Especially being thrown into the deep end, my first first-team matches. For example in pre-season against good Spanish teams, then obviously coming back and playing against League One teams, and then being thrown straight into it in the league.
“It’s been tough but the guys, the team has helped with that adaptation.
“I feel like I’ve had a lot of improvement and a lot of tips from the coaches, and also the players.
“I feel like my game has matured a bit more, I’m not doing as much silly stuff out on the pitch now.
“A lot of it is down to Slaven Bilić. As I’ve said in previous interviews, I’m still in debt to Slav.”
Nathan is as “Albion” as they come having been given his footballing education through the Academy age groups, all of it conducted under the proud and watchful eye of his parents, family and friends.
“It’s a very special feeling,” he admits. “As you know I’ve come through the Academy. I understand what it’s like to sit on the sides, to be a ball boy, to watch the first-team actually play.
“They usually make every game, they’re pretty supportive. So I’m pretty fortunate that they come and watch. It really helps me to put out my best performance.”
The challenge of Swansea is next up for Albion and Ferguson is full of admiration and respect for how Sunday’s opponents approach the game.
It will be another serious test for Slav’s team, he says.
“Confidence is blooming but we already know that we can’t be complacent, and that we have to go out there and try our hardest to beat any team.
“We’re expecting a good match-up. They’re good at keeping the ball, I’ve watched them, especially last year when we played against them.
“I’ve watched them this year - they’re a good technical team, I can say that, but we’re looking forward to it.”
“It should be a good game and I’m just hoping we put on a good show for our fans.”