Lytham-born Adam Freeland is hoping to feature in the first round of one of the world’s biggest cup competitions to help him fulfil his life’s dream of becoming a professional footballer.
The 25-year-old will line up for non-league minnows Kidsgrove Athletic on Saturday when they travel to face Hartlepool United in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup.
Should Kidsgrove win, the Northern Premier League Division One West outfit will go into the first round proper where they could be drawn against the likes of Blackpool and Fleetwood Town.
That would be a dream come true for Freeland, who is a former captain of Lytham Juniors who later went on to feature for Blackpool’s youth team.
The right-back, whose day job is working at a football academy in Manchester, helped Kidsgrove reach this stage as he played in their 2-1, extra-time win against Workington in the third round of qualifying.
His father David said: “He’s always dreamed of being a professional footballer. He’s pushed himself and pushed himself but he’s been messed about by so many coaches and people playing their mates and all that nonsense.
“But he’s just never given up. He’s 25 now and the clock is ticking, but it’s all he’s ever wanted to do.
“This will be the pinnacle of his career to date. It’s a huge game and a chance to win a lot of money for the club. You’ve got to dream, haven’t you?
“Kidsgrove have never got to the first round before, so this would be huge for them. It would just be massive, it’s ‘Roy of the Rovers’ stuff.
“If they could just get through this, or even get a replay, they’d be into the first round draw at least.
“For him, he wants to be on a stage where he wants to be seen. Down at the lower levels you just don’t get seen.
“He’s worked so hard to be a footballer and he’s not had any favours from anybody. Now he’s got a chance to be seen and it’s a huge game for Kidsgrove. They’ve never played a game like this.
“He’s really excited. The Workington game was incredible so he was buzzing and he can’t wait now for Saturday. It’s just a shame work won’t give him the Friday or the Sunday off!”
David admits his son has had to make a number of sacrifices to pursue his life goal, including quitting his job.
“He worked for AXA for five years while playing for the likes of Lancaster and Clitheroe,” David added.
“He saved up, took early redundancy and took a year-and-a-half out, going to the gym and, through his former coach Trevor Sinclair, got an agent.
“Through that he trained at Macclesfield Town last season during their title-winning season. Although they never played him, he trained three or four times a week.
“He got so much better doing that and the manager John Askey thanked him for helping them get promoted but he couldn’t play him because he’s never played at the Conference level and he couldn’t risk it. But Adam gained a lot of confidence from that and he got a lot better.
“Kidsgrove were then very keen and, although they’re under the radar, they have a really good side.
“They’ve had 16 games in league and cup and they’ve only lost one, and that was 1-0. They’ve not lost away.
“Dunston are the only side level in the cup that are below them in the pyramid but playing Hartlepool is like AFC Fylde playing a Championship side, but they’ll give them a run for their money, no doubt about it.”