New Zealand youngster Sarpreet Singh has praised Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski for helping him to impress on his first start for the German champions.
The 21-year-old attacking midfielder made his debut for Bayern in the 6-1 Matchday 15 win over Werder Bremen in December, and then got his first start for the visit of Freiburg six months later.
Singh acquitted himself well, watching Lewandowski net twice in the 3-1 victory on Matchday 33 before being withdrawn after 64 minutes. Sharing the field from the off with club legends like Lewandowski and Thomas Müller could be daunting for a young player with so little first-team experience, but Singh said that the Bundesliga’s leading goalscorer made sure to look out for him.
"Lewandowski was talking to me in the warm-up and he was like 'I'll come over to your side at the start to help you get into the game,'" he told New Zealand website Stuff.
Watch: Singh saw Lewandowski star for Bayern against Freiburg
"He was in the left pocket and it was really nice just to have someone like that say something like that and just help you get into the game.
"I just played simple when I first got on the ball and tried to work as hard as possible. I felt very comfortable out there."
That first senior start was an obvious high point in what was a memorable campaign for a player who only moved to Munich from Wellington Phoenix in his homeland in June 2019.
But Singh also proved that he can deliver week in, week out, scoring seven goals and making seven more in 22 appearances for the Bayern Munich reserve side who were crowned Bundesliga 3 champions in June.
He'll hope Bayern can make it an unforgettable season for the club by winning the UEFA Champions League this month to complete a remarkable league, DFB Cup and European treble - something they achieved in spectacular fashion in 2012/13.
After that, though, Singh must decide with Bayern head coach Hansi Flick what would be best for his future development. He admits he is open to a loan move - something David Alaba did as a youngster - but he could also try to emulate Alphonso Davies by pushing for more game time in his second year with the five-time European champions.
"Both possibilities are really good and I'm in a position where whatever one I decide it’s a good decision," he said.
"That's something I have to assess in the coming weeks I guess, and I will speak with the coach and see what he really thinks is the best for me.
"For me it could be a really good option to get minutes at a high level, but at the same time doing what I did this year - and maybe even better by taking another step up - could also benefit me.
"Nothing has been decided on what’s going to happen but I'm open to all possibilities."
Whatever path he takes, Singh has certainly had a taste of the rewards on offer for those who work hard at a club like Bayern. An Auckland native with Indian parents, he said that making his debut - with an eight-minute cameo against Bremen - was something "truly special" that will "stick with me forever."
Bayern’s latest up-and-coming talent previously told bundesliga.com that Joshua Kimmich and Serge Gnabry both helped him settle in, and that he has learned from watching the likes of fellow attackers Lewandowski and Philippe Coutinho in training.
Singh also told Stuff that making his first start "means a lot" but he reiterated that rubbing shoulders with serial winners was an incredible experience in itself.
"To be part of a team that wins something is truly amazing and there’s no better feeling than winning because it's why we play," he said.