Howes happy to make Hammers bow
Few players make their first-team debuts for top-flight clubs at the age of 16 - even fewer when it comes to goalkeepers.
For those reasons, Sam Howes' achievement in featuring in West Ham United's 3-1 Football United Tour defeat by Sydney FC was all the greater.
The teenager was handed his bow for the final 15 minutes, showing admirable composure to control a misplaced backpass and dribble past Sydney striker Corey Gameiro just seconds after coming on as a late substitute for Adrian.
Howes kept his goal intact during his brief appearance, leaving the England U17 international feeling great pride after the final whistle.
"I'm not 17 until November, so to make my debut for the first team on this tour was not just an achievement for me, but for everyone around me - the coaching staff and everyone who has helped me at West Ham," said the stopper.
"It's a really big thing for me and I'm really buzzing at the moment. As soon as I got on the pitch, my head was spinning a bit and I was thinking 'Is this actually happening!' as I couldn't believe it at first.
"I took a free-kick and got a backpass off Reidy and obviously it wasn't the best of backpasses, but at the same time I dealt with it and I kept a clean sheet, albeit I was only on the pitch for ten minutes or so.
"I am really pleased with what I did out there, to be fair."
For Howes, making a first-team appearance was the icing on the cake of an amazing, if unexpected, nine-day stay in New Zealand.
"I only found out on the Tuesday before we left after a pre-season game for the reserves and to get the call out here was unbelievable, really.
"It's a dream come true for me to play for the first team, training with the lads and also to meet all the fans as well out here in New Zealand.
"It's two weeks away from home and words can't describe how I'm feeling at the moment. It's been blinding."
Howes' debut was just one of a series of highlights during an unforgettable week that also saw him walk around the rim of the 200 metre-high Sky Tower in Auckland.
"I think the whole week has been my highlight. Everything I have done has been unbelievable so I can't pick out one thing.It's been a phenomenal experience for myself.
"As a 16-year-old first-year scholar, I'm going to relish every experience I can get and move on with my career."
Having made his debut in pre-season, Howes' ambition for the coming campaign is to cement his place in the Development Squad - no small feat for a first-year scholar.
"A good season would be to play as many Under-21s games as possible and to keep training with the first team. Hopefully I'll get into the squad for some of the Capital One Cup or FA Cup games - I just have to wait and see really.
"I'll just take it as it comes and move onwards and upwards, as you do."
Goalkeeper coach Martyn Margetson has been impressed by the maturity and confidence shown by Howes during his first trip away with the first-team squad.
"I'm pleased for him and I'm pleased that the manager had the confidence to put him on for ten minutes," said Margetson.
"Sam has had a good week's training and has not looked out of place at all. He is an outstanding young prospect.
"He's got a long road ahead of him but he has got the potential."