Bright Osayi-Samuel goes from park games to possible Wembley appearance
From playing park football to a possible Wembley appearance in just three years. The story of Bright Osayi-Samuel is one that could write itself.
Born in Okija, Nigeria, he moved to England before he became a teenager - via Spain - and his professional football career found its roots as a 16-year-old on a playing field in the south-east London district of Woolwich.
Fast forward to the present day and the Blackpool winger, now 19, has won the English Football League's Young Player of the Month award for March.
Osayi-Samuel scored three times in that month to help the Tangerines edge closer to the League Two play-offs, which they will reach if they defeat Leyton Orient on Saturday.
It is all a far cry from the day his talent was first spotted.
"I was playing in a park with a few of my friends and one of the Manchester United scouts came and watched at the time," Osayi-Samuel told BBC Radio Lancashire of how he was discovered.
"He knew Richie (Kyle) was Blackpool's youth-team coach, told him about me, then Richie called my mum and asked me if I wanted to trial at Blackpool. It all started from there."
Osayi-Samuel and Kyle have risen through to the first-team ranks at Bloomfield Road almost simultaneously.
Despite six appearances towards the end of their 2014-15 Championship relegation season, it was the following campaign Osayi-Samuel made his mark on the first team, when Kyle had moved up to the senior squad as a coach under Neil McDonald.
"Without him I wouldn't be where I am now," Osayi-Samuel said of Kyle.
"Last year, when new players came in, I didn't really know anyone apart from two of the youth-team players and Richie.
"For me to have a coach that I'd known for a while and knows my strengths and weaknesses really helped me to kick-start my pre-season and try to impress the first-team manager."
On and off the field, 2015-16 was not the best of seasons for Blackpool.
Fan protests against chairman Karl Oyston continued, while McDonald left following the club's second successive relegation.
But Osayi-Samuel got a real taste for senior football, playing 26 times, and under new boss Gary Bowyer he has featured in 40 matches in all competitions so far this term.
Osayi-Samuel said Bowyer has "given me confidence on and off the pitch" and it showed with a special goal against Newport County, chasing his own long ball forward down before duping the keeper and finishing into a nearly empty net.
Despite the success this season, Tangerines fans are still unhappy with the way the club is being run and, along with fans of relegated Orient - whose own off-field turmoil is well-documented - they plan to hold a protest prior to Saturday's match.
The Blackpool squad, though, remains focused on the task in hand.
"I've never played in the play-offs so I don't know the experience," said the winger. "But we take each game as it comes, focus on Saturday and try to get three points before thinking about the play-offs.
"I know a few of the Leyton Orient players and they are very young and energetic. We just have to play to our strengths."
Previous EFL Young Player of the Month winners
- August - Port Vale defender Nathan Smith
- September - Bristol City striker Tammy Abraham
- October - Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips
- November - Doncaster striker Liam Mandeville
- December - Colchester defender Frankie Kent
- January - Reading midfielder John Swift
- February - Oxford midfielder Ryan Ledson
Bright Osayi-Samuel was speaking to BBC Radio Lancashire's Phil Cunliffe