New Ayr United striker Sam Ashford admits it took him years to fall in love with football again after being shown the door at Tottenham Hotspur.
As a teenager at White Hart Lane Youth Academy, the striker had stars in his eyes.
But while close friends like Harry Winks made it to the Premier League, a young Ashford was left adrift by the London giants.
The leader admits it took him a long time to get over the news that his career had stopped dead in its tracks.
But now he’s on a long and winding road back to redemption, and he’s determined to make up for lost time.
Ashford signed an 18-month deal to become Lee Bullen’s third signing in the January transfer window.
told the Ayrshire Post: “I went to Spurs when I was only eight years old and like any kid, it was a dream come true to be in that kind of environment.
“Harry Winks is one of my closest teammates and he played in the same year as me, so it’s been great to see his progression.
“But when I got the news of my release, it definitely hit my confidence. I was young and I took it personally.”
“For a few years I went and played Sunday league with my teammates just to get back my enjoyment of the game more than anything.
“I guess it would have been easy to have a chip on my shoulder and think ‘I’m better than this’, but I just wanted to play football and score goals.”
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Ashford began scoring goals for little-known Stansted FC in the Essex League as he began his long and winding comeback.
The 26-year-old added: “I came back to the senior game late and always felt like I had to work harder to prove myself because of that.
“Most of the other guys had gone through full Academy setups, while I’d gone down to out of league to start over.
“When I was there, I was selected for England’s ‘C’ team, which is the country’s non-league team.
“We played in the Falkland Islands and it was a great experience, which probably helped me get noticed a bit more.”
Regular scoring spells at Witham Town (run by father Mark) and Hemel Hempstead eventually earned Sam a move to the League Two Crawley Town side.
He insisted: “I feel like I’ve shown that I can perform at that level.
“It hasn’t worked out at Crawley, but I’m determined to come here and take my chances with Ayr.
“I had non-league clubs in England that were in my favour, but I wanted to wait for this move.
“It’s a great opportunity and a lot of players see Scotland as a good place to come and play their football now.
“I just want to make the most of the opportunity that has been given to me here.
“I played with Ben [Dempsey] on loan at Woking last year, so it’s great to see him here too and I hope we can enjoy it.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.