Burnley's Scott Twine reflects on his meteoric rise from the sixth tier of English football to the fringes of the Premier League
Summer signing Scott Twine was operating in the sixth tier of English football just three years ago.
The former MK Dons star, who was voted the EFL League One Player of the Year last season, had been earning his spurs with Chippenham in the National League South.
The Swindon-born midfielder was registered to his hometown team at the time, having already made 24 appearances in League Two for the Robins, scoring once in a 3-2 win over Stevenage at the County Ground in November 2018.
But Twine, who had made his debut for Town in a third tier defeat at the hands of Charlton Athletic at The Valley as a 17-year-old, replacing Jesse Starkey as part of a triple-change by manager Luke Williams, was sent out for a second spell with the Bluebirds at Hardenhuish Park.
Now, having scored 20 times in League One last term, and getting off the mark for Burnley in the Championship, the shining lights of the Premier League could be awaiting him in 2023-24.
The 23-year-old, who is a self-confessed Manchester United fan, said: "If it comes it would be incredible, it would be amazing, that's a possibility with how we've done.
"We know we need to work hard and carry on doing what we're doing, but every kids' dream is to play in the Premier League, in the big stadiums.
"Playing against Manchester United at Old Trafford [in the Carabao Cup] was incredible, I never would have thought that possible a few years ago when I was on loan at Chippenham. It's nice.
"Man United was my team growing up so to play against them was a surreal moment. Hopefully I get to play them many more times in the future."
Twine — just like Clarets' Wembley match-winner Wade Elliott — has taken the scenic route to reach his destination, having climbed through the various rungs of the pyramid.
His journey departed from local club Wootton Bassett in Wilpshire before he was picked up by Southampton en route. From there he joined Swindon Town, taking in temporary spells with Waterford, Chippenham and Newport County, ahead of his arrival at Stadium MK.
Finding his feet in the Championship has taken some time, particularly after injury curtailed his progress at the beginning of his campaign, but he's slowly getting back up to speed.
He has now made 13 appearances for Vincent Kompany's side in all competitions. He said: "The tempo, the pace, the physicality of the games [in the Championship] and training sessions, everything is that bit quicker. It's good, it's enjoyable, I see myself improving all the time, I know I still need to improve a lot, but I've got such a good team around me.
"The more minutes you play the easier it is to grow. When you're not getting minutes there's also other stuff I can be improving, whether it's tactically, physically or mentally. There are loads of ways to improve.
"I still want to get so much better, I've gone up and gotten a little bit better every year and I want to continue that. Hopefully, people will see the results soon."