Peterborough's Marcus Maddison: I didn't work hard, I'm different now
When Marcus Maddison was at Newcastle United, he dreamed of going on to Real Madrid. Instead, he ended up at Gateshead.
As a north-east boy coming through the St James' Park ranks, you might have expected the allure of becoming a Geordie hero would have sufficed, or for a Magpie-shaped love affair to have formed.
"Not really, no," the 21-year-old Peterborough United forward tells BBC Sport.
"I would have loved to have broken into the first team and played.
"But every young lad has a dream of playing for Arsenal, Real Madrid - all the big clubs. You've got to be realistic, but that was always my dream."
|The Maddison missile|
|Marcus Maddison has shown a prowess for scoring from set-pieces since joining Posh, and he has his own way of doing it.|
|"Everyone asks how I do it. They try and do it and they can't. It took me a long time. I was 17 when I first tried it.|
|"You use the side of your foot, but you're hitting it more with your heel.|
|"If you hit with the middle of the side of your foot it just curls. If you hit it the way I do, it goes straight and moves at the same time."|
Instead of a meteoric rise to Europe's elite, Maddison fell from grace. Released by Newcastle in 2013, he had a short spell at St Johnstone in Scotland, before finding himself out of work and out of prospects.
His flatlining career was resuscitated though, first of all at Gateshead, and now at Peterborough, where he has won the Football League's Young Player of the Month Award for October, after scoring four goals in five games.
It took some soul searching to get back on the right path, particularly after being shown the door by Newcastle without making a senior appearance.
"They said my attitude wasn't good enough. They always said I had the ability, but they were always worried about my mental state," he recalls.
"I'll admit it myself. I didn't really work that hard. I thought I had the right to be there.
"Growing up I was told I was always going to make it: 'You're one of the best players, you're going to make it'. I felt I deserved to make it, like I didn't have to work hard. But you do have to work hard.
"I learned from my mistakes. I'm a lot different now."
Nine goals in 32 games for Gateshead last season, alongside a series of impressive performances on the wing, put the Durham-born player in the frame for a move to a Football League side.
His disciplinary record was an issue though, with two sendings off and eight yellow cards, but four goals in five games at the beginning of the new campaign was enough to persuade Posh boss Darren Ferguson he was worth taking a gamble on.
"I feel he has always had the ability and for whatever reason he has not fulfilled it," said Ferguson.
"He's been in fantastic form and fulfilled that potential we thought he had.
"You have to make sure you play him in a position where he can hurt teams.
"It was a good fit between him and us. We've brought through young players before and he understood that."
Maddison matches up perfectly to the Peterborough model of taking young, untapped talent and turning them into diamonds.
|Football League's Young Player of the Month Award winners 2014-15|
|August: Dele Alli, MK Dons - Read more|
|September: Matt Ingram, Wycombe Wanderers - Read more|
|October: Marcus Maddison|
Dwight Gayle, Lee Tomlin, George Boyd, Craig Mackail-Smith and Britt Assombalonga have all walked into London Road, flourished, and moved on to bigger things.
"Of course, you do your research," says Maddison.
"I was excited to come. Once I started playing I felt I fitted in the team well.
"I think the manager knows me quite well already. He's put me in the number 10 position which I've never played in before and I've relished it."
October was not perfect though. Not only did Posh lose back-to-back away games at Crewe and Coventry to drop out of League One's top three, but Maddison damaged ligaments in his ankle in training and learned he would be sidelined for up to eight weeks.
It was a "depressing" pill to swallow for the youngster.
But the optimism that once had him dreaming of playing at the Bernabeu remains, with the prospect of facing league leaders Bristol City next week a tempting proposition, even if it would be two weeks ahead of his planned return.
"I would love to play on TV against Bristol City," he says, breaking into a cheeky smile. "But it's pushing it."