The lure of full-time football was too great for Worksop Town midfielder Tom Elliott, who has sealed a move to an as yet unnamed National League North club.
Carlton-in-Lindrick lad Elliott has played his last game for his home-town team, and the transfer – for an undisclosed fee – will be completed today or tomorrow.
He broke through into the first team in the final match of the 2013/14 season, which turned out to be Worksop’s last game in the Evo-Stik Premier, before a two-division voluntary relegation.
Elliott then made a starting place his own early on in the last campaign, and has been a vital part of Mark Shaw’s starting XI this season.
The 20-year-old, who initially decided to stay at Sandy Lane until the end of the season, says the chance to make his boyhood dream a reality wasn’t one he could pass up and forced a change of heart.
“Obviously I’m gutted to be leaving things as they are, halfway through a season, but with the opportunity I’ve got, there was no way I could turn it down,” he said.
“I just realised how much of an opportunity it was.
“When people look at the National League North they think it’s part-time, but it’s a full-time club.
“I will be leaving my job. That’s the main reason I’ve made the decision, full-time football is what I’ve always wanted.”
Earlier this season Elliott was the talk of non-league, having been taken on trial at Sheffield Wednesday, albeit with their Under 21s.
And although a move to Hillsborough did not materialise, that only strengthened his desire to become a professional.
“When I went to Sheffield Wednesday it was just about the experience,” he said.
“I never really thought I would get signed on, it was with their Under 21s and with all the money they’ve got they can sign anyone they want.
“But because it was full-time there, I realised how much I wanted to do it, so I just felt I should take this chance.”
He leaves a Worksop Town Football Club in vastly different circumstances to the club that brought him through the Under 19s into the first team, and an organisation he still holds dear.
“I want to thank everyone at the club, the gaffer, Sharkey (Chris Adam, assistant manager), Rich Lawrence, Dents (Craig Denton, coach), the lads – they are brilliant – and the fans have been fantastic.
“Where the club has got to, after we dropped down two divisions, it’s unbelievable how far we’ve come.
“I can only see them moving forward.
“I will be down as much as I can, still supporting the lads and the gaffer, but the time has come for me to leave.”
Elliott’s family have become a regular fixture at Sandy Lane, a number of them vocal supporters of Tigers.
And he made them a part of his decision.
“I had to talk it through with my parents, and they said it’s all I’ve ever wanted, to play full-time.
“They thought it was the right move as well, so I’ve gone with their judgement as well.
“It’s brilliant to have their support at games, and not just them - my uncle and cousin, my girlfriend, they’ve all been coming down.”
Looking back on his stint with Tigers, the player himself admits his rise to prominence has been a rapid one, although not all plain sailing.
“When I came in from the Under 19s, my first proper game for Worksop was Frickley at home in the last game of the season in the Evo-Stik.
“I thought I did alright, and in the summer it looked like we would fold, so I was disappointed.
“But the gaffer sorted everything out and it’s shot up from there.
“He gave me a chance and I took it, I just seemed to get better.
“I’ve had dips in form, like earlier in the season I know I wasn’t on my game, but after I did some running at Christmas, since New Year I’ve been back at it.”
And now he’s preparing to take on the challenge of a three-division leap.
The youngster is under no illusions, but feels if he replicates his development at Worksop, he can make the grade.
“It will be a step up in standard, and I’ve got to match it,” he said.
“I don’t think I’ll be starting the moment I go there, but I wasn’t starting for Worksop at the beginning of last season, so I’ve just got to do what I’ve been doing here and try and work my way in.”