Jack Muldoon has thanked his Worksop Town team-mates for helping him land a dream move to League One side Rochdale.
The forward, who turns 25 today, was given a one-year contract by the professional club last week – having trained with them since January.
Just a year ago, Muldoon was released by North Ferriby United and joined Tigers looking for regular football.
Now, he’s swapping games against Frickley Athletic and Ashton United for visits to Oldham Athletic and Sheffield United.
Speaking to the Guardian on his birthday, Muldoon said he would never have predicted this scenario last summer.
“I didn’t see this coming at all,” he said.
“I must have played about 12 games at Ferriby, so I wanted to go somewhere and play a lot of games.”
“I thought the season could be a stepping stone for me, so I would get my head down and try to get as high as I could.”
“Mark Shaw said I would be playing pretty much every game, and luckily players like Metts (Leon Mettam), Dents (Tom Denton) and Quinny (Adam Quinn) made me better.”
Securing a professional contract just days before his 25th birthday is a remarkable feat in itself, but joining newly promoted Rochdale will catapult him up four divisions.
Some nerves might be expected, but Muldoon – who scored 21 times for Tigers – says training at Rochdale has helped.
“The assistant manager at Fylde is best mates with the assistant at Rochdale, and he passed my name on and said they should take a look.”
“So I started training with them in January, and it was tough and fast paced. Everyone was a lot sharper, quicker and prettier on the ball.”
“I felt like I could adapt, but the fitness levels were different.”
“It’s been good for me, going in for a couple of months, I’ve got to know the club, the players and staff. I would have been a lot more nervous if it hadn’t been for that.”
Although there was no guarantee of a contract at the end of his extended ‘trial’, Muldoon had high hopes of fulfilling his boyhood dream.
“It was more of a hope than an expectation that something was coming, I just had to be patient and work hard.”
“I started out like every kid does, with a dream, all I wanted to do was play football. I just had to wait a while longer for it to happen.”
Muldoon can now leave his part-time plastering job, but he’s under no illusions, the hard work starts now.
“I’m straight into training. They’ve given me an extra month on my contract to finish my job and get an extra month of work out of me.”
“The gaffer has said no drinking, no partying, I have to get my head down because it’s going to be a bit of a shock come pre-season.”
He leaves behind an adoring fanbase at Sandy Lane, and team-mates he believes can join him in the pro ranks.
“The fans are great aren’t they? Coming to every game, singing their hearts out.”
“And you know how I feel about the lads. Mark, Shutts and all the staff and players have been so good to me, helping me get this move. They are like a family to me.”
“I hope there will be some of them (get a big move), players like Dents, Metts, Alex Pursehouse and Phil Roe have all got a great chance.”