Stoke City supporters were introduced to a new hero in the mould of Denis Smith in 2001.
Andy Wilkinson, then aged 17 and not long having chosen football over ice hockey, was handed his Stoke debut at Blackpool by Gudjon Thordarson in the LDV Vans Trophy.
A young Stoke side lost 3-2 on the night but would end that season with a dramatic promotion – and Wilkinson would see the club change beyond recognition in his 14-year career.
For starters, he played 194 matches against 55 different teams in five different countries with 125 different teammates.
One hundred and 25 different teammates. Wow. That got us thinking… how many can you remember?
We have given you two clues for each player; the club from which he joined and his primary position. Then it’s up to you to name as many as you can in 10 minutes.
Wilkinson had started out like any other football-loving kid. He went through school and village teams exhibiting a prowess bound at some point to attract the gaze of admiring scouts.
“When you compared him to other players,” said his dad Gordon, by this time embroiled in that world of lifts and car journeys familiar to any parent of a sport-infatuated child, “you did start to think, ‘Maybe he’s got something’.”
However, Stoke fans may be stunned to learn that at a key point in his development, Wilko was very nearly lost to the game.
“There was a point when he was 11 or 12,” Gordon recalled, “and he’d done a lot and won everything, where he became a bit disenchanted with the game.
“It was then he got into roller hockey and also ice hockey and that’s what really toughened him up – maybe a bit too much!
“He was always a good sprinter,” he adds, “but it was then that he really developed that five-yard kick.”