the top level because I believed I could do it, but making your way up the football ladder is very tough. Thankfully I’ve been lucky enough to do that and I’m really pleased to have been given such a great opportunity.
You were spotted by Fulham when you were at Maidstone – how did that come about?
It was soon after I’d been selected for the England Schoolboys Under-18 squad. I’d heard a few clubs were watching me, and I went on trial for a week at Middlesbrough before going to train at Fulham for a couple of days. I played in a practice game and straight afterwards Roy Hodgson said that the club would like to sign me.
Had a part of you given up making it at the top level prior to that?
I always hoped I’d get an opportunity and, in a way, I had nothing to lose at that trial because I was all set to go to university if it didn’t work out. I’d done my A-levels and had applied to Loughborough to study Business Management with Economics. It was nice to have the back-up of the uni option, and it’s something I’ll probably pick up later in my career because we have a lot of free time and it would be nice to do the degree.
We’re guessing a typical day as a non-league player is very different to that as a Red…
[Laughs] Yes definitely! When I was at Maidstone I would have got up about 8.30am every day for school. We trained on Tuesdays or Thursdays in preparation for the weekend match and sometimes had a midweek game. I also had a part-time job at a hotel in the evenings so it was a busy time. It’s strange to have gone from that to being