Crystal Palace left-back Tyrick Mitchell will come up against an old nemesis this weekend in the shape of Wolves attacker Adama Traore but like every challenge he has faced in life, it will be met head on.
By his own admission it has not been the easiest of journeys to the top for the 22-year-old from Harrow, who saw his dad spend much of his childhood in and out of prison and was brought up largely by his mum.
While Mitchell got the essentials, the new boots being worn by his Premier League idols were not always under his tree at Christmas but now he is proud to have achieved what he set out to do – support his family.
“It hasn’t been the easiest of routes but that’s what makes everything more special and humbling to me because I came from nothing,” the Londoner said.
“It was difficult. It was just my mum, so it is not particularly easy for just one person. My sister lived with us as well but it wasn’t easy for one person to give you whatever you wanted.
“A lot of my time growing up allowed me to be humble. The single-parent aspect was massive for me.
“I feel like it made me a better person. I didn’t take anything for granted. It gave me that pride where now I am in a position where I can help the people around me and no one has to worry about anything. That whole scenario built me into a man so much quicker.
“Now when I enter the real world and you don’t get everything you want or you have to work even harder, I am able to do that with ease. It is no problem.”
Mitchell is not alone in having a difficult upbringing but the setbacks have continued. He saw his four years at Brentford end prematurely in the summer of 2016 when the club suddenly shut their academy.
It was during this period where mentor Abdi Farah, who would regularly drive the Brent-born footballer to training, was a key influence alongside others in his support group.
Palace came calling and while Mitchell’s progress at Selhurst Park appeared to be going in the right direction, he was dealt a blow when a thigh injury cut short his first pre-season tour with the senior squad in 2019.
“That was probably the hardest moment in my life at Palace so far,” the youngster reflected.
“All the trust I had tried to build up had gone within a game. I felt like I was back to square one and in a Premier League team, it is not easy when you are not even there yet to go back to zero.
“But little things the first team did for me, the manager Roy Hodgson and the physios, gave me that belief that it was a massive setback but I knew they still trusted me.”
While Mitchell was still an Under-23 player, in a change of policy he did his rehabilitation with the first team and Hodgson, in charge at the time, would regularly check-in.
Mitchell’s Premier League bow occurred with cameos against Leicester and Manchester United in the early weeks of Project Restart, but it was his first start against Wolves where it hit home how much work was still required.
He added: “In the 23s, I would say a lot of people they don’t get past me. That was one thing I prided myself on but when I came up against Adama Traore, he was getting the better of me each time.
“It was humbling and that was one situation that taught me I am nowhere near where I need to be with my defending in the Premier League.
“But it was massive working with Roy, especially on the defensive aspect because what I learnt off him allowed me in games to be the person who is hard to get past.
“Wolves hurt me a lot because I felt I was nowhere near where I could or should be so after he was a positive voice in my ear.
“He would always tell me I did well or did this and that which was a massive part of my confidence, because he gave me the confidence that no one would beat me.”
Palace had faith in Mitchell from the outset with academy director Gary Issott laying out a pathway upon him signing academy terms in 2016 and he penned a four-year deal in April.
New boss Patrick Vieira has been the latest to invest in him, with no left-back cover brought in during the summer, and it means the defender will make his 36th Eagles appearance on Saturday with an initial target of doing what he does best.
“Some people get thrills off nutmegging or beating someone, some off scoring but my one is I like to see I had my opponent. That person couldn’t get past me or had to change wings, or the manager had to substitute him. That is a massive boost,” Palace’s number three revealed.
“And the confidence the club and manager has put in me has made me want to repay them and show they were right for putting their belief in me.
“It’s been like a whirlwind under the new manager. To see someone of his stature as a player come in has inspired me to work hard and learn a lot from him.”