Report- Yerry Mina interview: Everton ace ready to defend his shirt to death | Football | Sport

Yerry Mina interview: Everton ace ready to defend his shirt to death | Football | Sport

But whenever that word is used, Yerry Mina only has to think back to his escape from poverty in Colombia to put everything into context.

Mina, named by his mother after the mouse in Tom and Jerry, was brought up in Gauchene, a place where the average monthly income is $100 a month per family – and life is tough.

“If I told you everything about my childhood we would be here all day. There were lots of difficulties for me at the start but it was always the aim of mine to be a footballer and I had a strong conviction to do it,” he said.

“Gauchene is quite difficult and a hard place to get out of. Yes I experienced some very tough moments in my home town, but you draw on those experiences.

“It makes you tough but there is not a day that goes by when I don’t look back and remember what it was like and every game I go into, I reflect on that past. It makes me all the more determined to succeed.”

Mina has had to be patient too after a dream move to Barcelona from Palmeiros in January earlier this year turned into something of a nightmare, the defender given just four appearances before being shipped out in the summer.

“I tried my best in Barcelona and trained really, really hard,” he said.

“I trained with the group a lot of the time but then I would find out that I was not in the travelling group and so [it was] training alone so that I was fit and ready for when the manager called on me.

“It wasn’t to be, so when the summer came, the World Cup was like payback. It was my chance to show what I can do.”

England fans will remember Mina’s contribution in the World Cup beating his now Everton team-mate Jordan Pickford to take England’s round-of-16 clash with Colombia to extra time with a 93rd-minute header.

But it was his performances in clean sheets against Robert Lewondowski and Poland and Sadio Mane’s Senegal in the group stages which alerted Everton manager Marco Silva among others to his talents.

With Manchester United also in the mix, Mina revealed it was the constant badgering from Everton’s manager after the World Cup which swayed him towards Merseyside – that and, somewhat bizarrely, Maraoune Fellaini and Aaron Lennon.

“The truth is that Marco [Silva] spoke to me every day when I was on holiday after the World Cup, telling me to come to England and come and play for Everton,” he said.

“I have always been aware of English football – Manchester United, Manchester City, Everton, Tottenham – but Everton has always been an important club for me and I watched them back in the day when Fellaini was playing here. I remember Aaron Lennon at a similar time.”

Mina has had to wait for his chance with the Toffees. He damaged his right foot in a training camp before the World Cup and returned to Barcelona with a hairline crack, and then suffered another foot injury to his other foot when clashing with Everton’s summer signing Bernard in training.

He might have had to continue to wait as well but on-loan Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma, who has struck up a decent relationship with Michael Keane, is not available on account of tomorrow’s opposition.

Some might say that avoiding an examination at the feet of Hazard et al could not be the worst game to miss, but Mina has other ideas.

“There is a saying we have in Colombia: Nobody takes my mum’s food away from me. It means we fight to the death and defend everything we can. Or you defend the shirt to the end. Try and get it off me!”