Bognor Regis Town midfielder Tommy Block had been handed the chance to follow his dream to make it as a professional footballer with a week-long trial at Championship outfit Sunderland.
Block, who has just turned 18, is heading to the Stadium of Light to be put through his paces after scouts spotted his potential during his performances for the Rocks in National League South this season.
He flies up to Wearside on Sunday, a day after Bognor host Leyton Orient in the FA Trophy in what will be arguably the biggest game of his career, should he be involved.
And while the teenager is totally focused on trying to help Jack Pearce’s side find a win over the Londoners at Nyewood Lane on Sunday, he also has an eye on what could be a pivotal few days in his future.
Block, who was on Bristol City’s radar earlier in the season, says he is doubly determined to impress Black Cats boss Chris Coleman and his coaches during his spell at the club. He is especially purposeful after suffering disappointment when he was released by Brighton and Hove Albion two years ago following five years at the club.
He said: “It’s my dream to become a professional footballer, and I am following that dream. I was devastated when I was released by Brighton aged 16 having been there since the age of 11. I won’t lie, it was a big, big blow.
“But I got my head down and kept on working and then got my chance with Bognor, and I absolutely love the club. I’ve managed to establish myself a little bit and have played 20-odd games for the Rocks now.
“As much as I want to succeed at Sunderland I know that if I don’t, hopefully, I can come back to Bognor and redouble my efforts to help us get out of the relegation position new find ourselves in.
“It goes without saying that I am grateful to manager Jack Pearce and all the staff at Nyewood Lane for the opportunity to represent such a great club.
“And the supporters are absolutely different class. I love playing for them and the support they give the team is second to none at non-league level. They are unbelievable fans. And many of them have come up to me and wished me well and it means a lot.”
Block, who is currently at Havant & South Downs College on a sports course, gets a glimpse of the level for which he is aiming when he sees players such as Arsenal starlet Reiss Nelson in action.
He came up against the attacking midfielder when he played for the Seagulls U16s against their Gunners counterparts – and the so-called wonder-kid’s development serves as encouragement for the youngster.
He added: “He has seen some first-team action under Arsene Wenger and that is so positive for a player like me who wants to make it as a pro.
“I’ll do my best at Sunderland and hope it is enough for them to perhaps take things further. Either way I can’t lose because it will be a fantastic experience.”
Pictures: TOMMY McMILLAN