Fulham head coach Marco Silva heaped praise on “special” Tosin Adarabioyo after the defender scored the winning penalty which secured the club a place in their first League Cup semi-final.
The 26-year-old was making only his sixth appearance of the season in the Carabao Cup tie at Everton, which the Cottagers won 7-6 in a shoot-out after the game finished 1-1, due to groin surgery in the summer.
But Silva said the centre-back had already made a difference since he returned late last month.
“He is a key player for us. He is one of the leaders in our dressing room and we need these guys to step in in the right moments and he did it,” he said.
“We missed him a lot, we missed him because he didn’t play the first three months of the season. Tosin is a special player for us, I can’t hide that situation.
“The way he can defend the box but also on the ball he is a special player for me, the way I want to play, the way he can build (from the back).
“For three months we missed him but he has just played the last four or five games and he is getting better and better.
“A great performance from him against Everton and to be able to take the last decision to be deciding the game he deserves all the credit.”
Having guided the team to last season’s FA Cup quarter-finals, where they lost at Manchester United after controversially being reduced to nine men by the dismissals of Aleksandar Mitrovic and Willian – Silva himself was also red-carded – the Fulham boss insists he does not need progress in cup competitions to tell him how well the side are doing.
“I don’t need it really but it shows the players we are in the right direction,” he added.
“My ambition is always more and more and more. It doesn’t matter about the past of the club.
“Last season we achieved the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and there was so much more in the game at Old Trafford.
“We are in a very good moment even though we lost the last (league) game against Newcastle.
“We have been approaching this competition as we approach a Premier League game. I rotated some players but even so we were able to go through the competition.”