Huddersfield midfielder Sorba Thomas will be hoping to make a remarkable journey this weekend by winning promotion to the Premier League.
If the Terriers beat Nottingham Forest in Sunday’s Championship play-off final, Thomas will be promoted from non-league football to the top flight within 16 months.
The former Boreham Wood midfielder said: “I’ve always believed in it. When you look at the success stories of Jamie Vardy, Michel Antonio and Tyrone Mings coming out of the league, you always have to believe in it.
“I thought my time would come. Huddersfield took the risk and got me from there and I’m repaying them by hopefully helping them into the Premier League.
His meteoric rise could not end there. Since joining Carlos Corberan’s first-team after arriving at Huddersfield in January 2021, the 23-year-old has earned three senior caps for Wales.
His fairytale rise to the top could end at the World Cup in Qatar, where Wales will face either Ukraine or Scotland in the play-off final in Cardiff on June 5.
When Thomas was sacked by West Ham aged 16, he was ready to quit the game and throw his boots in the bin.
He then became a salesman selling boots and worked as a scaffolder, but it wasn’t long before he was forced to pursue his dreams.
“When I first went to Boreham Wood I worked at JD Sports in Oxford Circus, I was there for a year. I didn’t like it at all,” he said.
“You get all kinds of clients and in your head you’re like, ‘I really have to make it as a footballer, I can’t do this every week’.
“There was a small soccer field upstairs and as soon as they found out I was playing they sent me there.
“Because I played soccer I seemed to know all the knowledge in the world about soccer shoes. it was crazy
“Then I started scaffolding a bit and towards the end I did a bit of club training and now here I am.”
Thomas has scored three goals and provided 16 assists in all competitions this season and signed a new contract this month, tying him to Huddersfield until the summer of 2026.
When he was first called up by Wales manager Rob Page for the World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic in October last year, he said he was pinching himself.
He will do so again on Sunday at Wembley as he reflects on those shifts at JD Sports and on the sites.
The Londoner added: “I thought it was cold here, but when you’re scaffolding, 6am and it’s freezing, I didn’t like it all.
“It was another point that made me think I have to make it as a footballer. It was cold in the morning, six in the morning until six or seven in the evening, long days.
“I just felt like ‘I can’t do this for the rest of my life, I have to play in big stadiums and tournaments’. It’s a massive moment in my career on Sunday.”