Hartlepool United club captain Billy Paynter says first club Port Vale will always have a special place in his heart.
But emotion goes out the window for the striker when the pair meet in the second round of the FA Cup at Vale Park tomorrow (3pm kick-off).
Paynter, who came through the ranks at the Valiants, only has eyes for a place in the third round for Pools, and a potential tie against one of English football’s big boys.
The 32-year-old said: “I am sure both teams are thinking win this and it could be a Premier League club in the next round.
“I know Vale like to play football out from the back, but Anthony Grant is out and is a miss for them.
“It’s been a mixed bag of results for us, it is just trying to find that consistency and going on a run, but anything can happen in the cup.”
Reflecting back on his start to life in football, Paynter recalls humble beginnings.
And he says it is not just the club he has to thank for his career to date.
He explains: “Vale will always have a place in my heart.
“I still talk about it with the physio and the kit man here.
“They gave me my first opportunity after I was scouted when I was 10.
“I used to come down and train at Staffs University, it was a bit of a distance but my mum and dad were prepared to get me there.
“There were times when my dad would come in from working nights on the rails and would drive me to junior games at Mansfield or Shrewsbury.
“Sometimes he didn’t actually see the game because he would fall asleep in the car because he was so tired.
“I owe my parents a lot, as I do Port Vale. I met some great people there and still keep in touch.”
Along with second string boss Sam Collings, Paynter left Vale in the winter of 2005, netting the club £150,000.
Financial troubles hung over the club like a cloud back then, but Paynter, who asked to leave, says it was never about anything else other than wanting to better himself, why he departed.
Paynter recalls: “We got wind there were financial problems; they were the rumours.
“But moving was also a chance to take another step in my career and play in the Championship.”