Thursday evening was a bitter-sweet experience for Ghanaian teenager Bernard Tekpetey who made his senior debut for Schalke in their 2-0 win over Nice in the Europa League, but was sent off late in the match after picking up two yellow cards.
After a series of appearances on the bench, the starlet finally introduced himself on Thursday when he made his professional debut in the clash against the French opposition.
The 19-year-old Tekpetey was signed from Ghanaian second-tier side Unistar Soccer Academy in February this year after impressing on trial.
He looked set to play the entire game until he received his second yellow card in injury time as he featured as a second striker in Makus Weinzierl’s 3-5-2 formation, with fellow Ghanaia Abdul Rahman Baba also in action as a left wing-back.
The youngster had picked up his first caution in the 50th minute, with Yevhen Konoplyanka having slotted home Schalke’s opener after Nice keeper Yoan Cardinale spilled the ball into his path in the 14th minute.
Before his dismissal, Tekpetey tried to force his way past the Les Aiglons defence and was fouled to win Schalke a penalty which Dennis Aogo coolly slotted home to double the lead and put the result beyond doubt.
It was almost the same kind of action that got him sent off as he tried to force his way past the defender only to clatter dangerously into the on-rushing goalkeeper for his second yellow card.
Coach Weinzerl praised the youngster's persistence after the game. "He was very involved and worked his way into chances," he told journalists. "The red card was a pity."
Schalke had already sealed qualification to the last 32 prior to this game but are now certain to win the group.
In-form Algeria midfielder Nabil Bentaleb remains Schalke’s only worry heading into the weekend; the free-scoring midfielder was substituted with what looked like a facial injury after a collision.
20-year-old German-Burundian Thilo Kehrer also made his first start for the Royal Blues, and Weinzierl’s men are now unbeaten in 11 matches, managing nine wins and two draws-a stark contrast to their miserable start to the season.