Regardless of the Premier League, Sorba Thomas has Hollywood in his sights. “I’m living a movie right now,” grins the Huddersfield and Wales winger. “I hope they can make a movie and Will Smith can play me!”
Screenwriters should pay attention to this. Because in the next eight days, the former scaffolder could complete a rags-to-riches story reminiscent of Jamie Vardy, whose own biopic has already been commissioned.
Just 16 months ago, Thomas was playing non-league for Boreham Wood. But now the 23-year-old is just two play-off final wins away from the Premier League and a World Cup.
Sorba Thomas and Huddersfield Town are just a step away from the Premier League
Just last January, Thomas played non-league football for Boreham Wood
How good does that sound? “Amazing,” replies Thomas. “These are two dreams that could come together within a week. I don’t think anything in my career would top that.
From Boreham Wood to Wembley, Thomas’ remarkable journey began after the heartbreak of being sacked by West Ham as a 15-year-old.
“It was the first time I was told I wasn’t good enough, and it hit me hard,” he recalls. “I threw my boots in the trash. But a year later my friends and family got me playing again and I went straight to Sports Direct to get a new pair!”
However, Thomas spent much of his next year in another sporting goods store. “When I first came to Boreham Wood I was working at JD Sports in Oxford Circus,” he recalls.
Thomas is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Jamie Vardy, who also played outside the league
‘I didn’t like that at all. In your head you think: “I have to make it as a footballer, I don’t make it every week”.
“Then I went to the scaffolding. It was cold mornings and long days. I started at 6am and didn’t finish until 7pm.
“That was another point where I thought, ‘I can’t do this for the rest of my life, I have to play in big stadiums, big moments’.
“But I would never take back anything I’ve done. I feel like my drive got through those cold scaffolding days.
Huddersfield reached the final after a hard-fought semi-final victory over Luton Town
Thomas estimates that he probably earned more with the scaffolding in these cold days than he did with football back then. But that all changed last January when he was signed by championship team Huddersfield, although it took him a while to come to terms with his newfound wealth.
“I remember my team-mates talking about win bonuses,” Thomas recalled in the dressing room after the win against Reading in August. “I said, ‘Do we have to share this? “They said, ‘No, it’s all yours.’
“After that I had a big grin on my face. It was good money. I bought some sneakers with it!’
There have been many more bonuses and coaches since then, with Thomas’ fine form in his first full season with Huddersfield helping them reach Sunday’s play-off final against Nottingham Forest.
Thomas has 16 assists and three goals this season, earning him a new contract
His 16 assists and three goals earned him a new contract last week and he has also won three caps with Wales – his mother’s native country who will face Scotland or Ukraine for a place at the World Cup in Qatar next Sunday.
“Every time I go to a camp, I pinch myself,” admits Thomas, who was born in Newham and whose father is from Sierra Leone. “These are people I’ve played for at FIFA or seen on TV and now I’m their teammate. If you had told me last year that I could possibly play in a World Cup next year, I would not have believed you.
But Thomas always believed the Premier League was a possibility, even when others didn’t.
“When I came, there were many doubters,” he adds. “But I think I’ve turned all those doubters into believers now.
Huddersfield are reaping the rewards of taking Thomas straight out of non-league football
“When you see the success stories of players like Vardy, Michail Antonio and Tyrone Mings coming from non-League to the Premier League, you always believe your time will come.
“Not many Championship clubs take a player straight out of non-league but Huddersfield took the risk.
“Hopefully I can repay them by putting them in the Premier League. It’s just one more game to make a dream come true.”