Alex Whittle used to battle Raheem Sterling for a place in the Liverpool youth team – now he is looking to take the fight to the National League North.
The left back has caught the eye with his desire to push forward, mixed with a willingness to do the dirty work, since his summer arrival at Boston United.
At present he is keeping his place ahead of last season’s defensive revelation Ashley Jackson, but as a youngster he came through the ranks with Liverpool, in a team which included Rangers striker Jon Flanagan, defender Conor Coady, now with Wolverhampton Wanderers, and England and Manchester City ace Sterling.
“I used to be a winger so he took my position,” Whittle said of Premier League champion Sterling, who moved to the Reds from QPR.
“He’s done well for himself hasn’t he? Maybe he could lend me a couple of quid one day.
“But there were a few big names in there to be fair.
“Obviously, there’s some lads who don’t play now. I had some ups and down there but no regrets.”
While injury and a change in management played parts in Whittle ending his time with the Anfield club, he believes moving on was the making of him.
He headed north of the border to link up with Dunfermline, making 78 appearances between 2012 and 2015.
“The best decision for me was moving to Scotland, playing first-team football,” the 26-year-old added.
“I lived with a few lads in a flat. They were a bit older and that helped me to mature, learn new things.
“I was in Scotland for a few years and I enjoyed it.”
Brief spells with AFC Fylde and Southport followed before spending two seasons at York City.
“I had a good time at York even if the club weren’t doing particularly well,” Whittle told The Standard.
“I got a move to Forest Green. It probably wasn’t the best move for me looking back, but if a League Two club comes in then you have to go for it.”
A four-match return on loan to Southport followed as Whittle found it tough to break into the Forest Green side.
And after spending last season with Warrington he agreed to link up with Craig Elliott’s Pilgrims, where he is enjoying the freedom afforded to him down the flank.
“That’s my game. I like to bomb on, link up play and get crosses in,” Whittle added.
“It’s about time I scored – it’s been a while. Hopefully one will come soon enough.
“But I know I’ve got to defend first and foremost.”
The Harrogate Town connection shared by many of the current United squad has helped this team to gel quickly.
But even Whittle, an outsider in that aspect, has found it easy to fit in.
“There’s a load of Harrogate boys in there, but I’ve played a lot against them so we know each other,” he added.
“But our style of play suits me so I’m happy.
“I think we’ve brought in some good signings and got some good attacking options.
“It might take a few games for it all to click properly but it’s still early days.
“We were unlucky not to win the first two games, but we can still improve.”