Albert Adomah may be about to play at Wembley for the first time – but he hasn't forgotten it all started treading the muddy fields of west London.
Adomah will run out underneath the arch in the Monday's Championship Play-Off final after helping his side, Middlesbrough, beat Brentford in the semis, scoring in Boro's 3-0 second leg win last Friday.
But the humble winger, who started out playing for Chiswick-based amateur side Old Meadonians and Ryman Premier outfit Harrow Borough before getting his big break as a pro with Barnet, insists he has never forgotten his roots.
Indeed, when Adomah made his international debut for Ghana four years ago, one of the first calls he made was to his old pals at Old Meadonians, who play at the pitches Riverside Lands, next to the Thames in W4.
Adomah said: “I always remember my old friends, from Old Meadonians to Harrow Borough and Barnet. I try to keep in touch and look out for their results. That is where I came from, and I will always be thankful to them.
“Playing for Old Meadonians especially helped me in my early days. I was a young boy playing against much older men, and it helped toughen me up. I know those guys have come to watch me when they can too, and I really appreciate it.”
When he was playing semi-pro football and before he knew he would make into the big time, Adomah started a course in decorative finishing and industrial painting at the College of North West London in Willesden – just the other side of the North Circular from the stadium he will be gracing on Monday.
“That's the closest I have got before,” he joked. “Every player dreams of playing at Wembley, and it has been quite a journey for me to get there, but I'm really excited about it.”