It is a long time since you might bump into even a Stoke City player or two in North Staffordshire, away from a match day or the training ground.
Yes, Joe Allen has posed for photographs with fans while he’s been out and about in the Potteries Shopping Centre but Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic, Bojan et al commuted in from the footballer belt in leafy Cheshire.
But there are still the odd Premier League player who can be spotted in Stoke-on-Trent, like Gareth Barry, who was regularly seen visiting grandparents in Bentilee.
Or Ben Foster, who a familiar face around Barlaston after leaving Stoke for Manchester United then Watford, Birmingham, West Brom and Watford again.
Or Bournemouth keeper Aaron Ramsdale, who grew up in Chesterton.
And you might also chance upon Phil Foden, a Stockport lad widely seen as a potential superstar at Manchester City and tipped for a first England call-up this month.
Foden, still only 19, has been a regular at Cudmore Fisheries, in Whitmore, since he was still at primary school and taken along by his dad Phil Sr.
Indeed, when Man City clinched the title in 2018 – Foden turned down a big boozy evening in Hale to pop down the M6 with his rod.
He said: “I went night fishing with my dad instead, I just felt too young to party. I was 17. So I thought it was the most sensible thing to do and Vinny (Vincent Kompany) actually said it was the right call.
“It was night fishing. So we were there until the morning. Funnily enough we didn’t talk much about the football, we just chatted about normal dad and son stuff. He is a United fan.”
Foden came through the ranks alongside Tyrese Campbell at Man City and has played with Stoke keeper Joe Bursik and new midfielder Tashan Oakley-Boothe in England youth teams.
He said in an interview for the Man City website earlier this year: “I was probably about six or seven and my dad had a fishing rod of his dad’s and said we should go and try it out,” he recalls.
“I fell in love with it and we ended up going every weekend. I still remember my first catch. It wasn’t very big, I was just learning, but it’s the excitement of when you get one for the first time. I think that’s the buzz that makes you want to go again, but it’s also a chance to chill and relax and to spend time with my dad.
“I think it’s really good after games when you have to rest your legs and I just find it really enjoyable.
“There’s tactics. Knowing in which spots to fish, knowing where the fish are, fishing at different lengths… There’s a lot behind it but when I get the odd day off, I fish simple. I’m not a specialist at it but I still manage to catch.
“I generally love all types of sport, but I don’t do any others apart from fishing. I do like darts, but I don’t really play. We have a dartboard when I’m with England and a few of the lads say I’m a natural. We don’t really compete, but sometimes I hit a 180 and they’ll be gobsmacked.”
He added: “Probably about 95 per cent of the football lads don’t enjoy it.
“The odd one likes fishing, so when people find out they say, ‘What a weird sport to enjoy’ they don’t understand why you enjoy it. Obviously, they need to go and try it. I think it’s the perfect hobby to rest your legs and have some down time.”