Following a campaign which saw him named the Club's Young Player of the Season, Max Cleworth is a fine example to others looking to follow in his footsteps.
Cleworth was a regular at the heart of the Wrexham AFC defence in 2021/22, helping the Red Dragons to the FA Trophy Final and a second-placed finish in the Vanarama National League.
With preparations already well under way for the new campaign, the 19-year-old centre-back is pleased to have gained some valuable experience to take into 2022/23.
“I didn’t have a plan!" he said, asked about his situation a year ago. "I just looked forward to that first game, and when I knew I was going to be playing, I just tried to play as well as I could and hoped I’d get a few more games after that.
"If you’d told me then that I’d go on to play as many games as I have, I wouldn’t have believed you, so it’s been good for me.
“Maybe I’m an example to show that there’s a pathway there. I’d say to any young player that you have to enjoy the journey; there will be highs and lows, but when you’re in the academy you have to be proud to play for Wrexham.
"You have to enjoy every training session, enjoy every game and take it week by week. You never know in football, you might just get that one chance that could change your career and change your life.
"Enjoy it and work hard – that would be the main message."
The defender has also benefitted from having experienced players around him, including Ben Tozer and Aaron Hayden, a duo who have given him regular advice since his first-team breakthrough.
“It’s just little things – the way they prepare, the way they play the game and react to mistakes," he added.
"You have to almost become robotic, in a way, so that when you’ve played a game you forget about it and move on to the next one straight away.
"Toze and Az have been brilliant with me, whether it’s before, during or after games, and I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me."
Cleworth scored his first Wrexham goal in a 5-0 win over Gloucester in the FA Trophy and was later selected in the starting XI in the final of the competition at Wembley Stadium.
He says the experience is another which he can learn from, and one he hopes will stand him in good stead.
“The feeling before the game was better than the feeling after it, that’s for sure!," he said. Maybe in a few years’ time, I’ll look back on it as a fond memory, but it stings at the minute.
"When you first walk out onto the pitch and look around the stadium, it’s massive, so I was nervous to start with, but it’s just another 90 minutes. I enjoyed it."