On Sunday, Adam Wilde's football career would have gone full circle as the former Cambridge United midfielder tries to help Gosport Borough upset his old club in the final of the FA Trophy.
Wilde was released by the U's in 1999, aged 20, and never found a route back into professional football.
"It's very strange," Wilde, now 34, told BBC South Today.
"To get to Wembley and play the team that let you go and broke your heart - it's a good day, I can't wait."
Following his release from United, Wilde went on to have spells at neighbours Cambridge City as well as Worcester City, Weymouth, Salisbury, Eastbourne, Sutton and AFC Totton, before joining Gosport in 2009.
Wilde, who is based in Southampton and is also a full-time hairdresser, admits playing at Wembley will be a "dream come true" and says he feels no bitterness towards Cambridge.
"It's strange because, when you get released by a club, you hope to go on and do things but it didn't work out," he said.
"It's hard - you're a young boy, aged 22, playing League football and they release you.
"Then you have the reality of going to work and getting a job and become a normal person.
"I dealt with it quite quickly, I just wanted to play football so went to the neighbouring team Cambridge City.
"In the back of your mind you always hope you will get the chance to get back into League football.
"It's fine though, I've had a great career and I'm happy."
Gosport, 20th in Conference South, are huge underdogs against Cambridge - who are second in the Conference Premier.
But Wilde, who has a few pre-match haircuts booked in from team-mates in the hotel, says they are comfortable with that tag ahead of their first major final.
"When we got to the quarters we were underdogs, and the same with the semis against Havant [and Waterlooville]," he said.
"It suits this team when we are up against it."