Peterborough United striker Aaron Williams is taking his inspiration from Premier League title winner Jamie Vardy.
Like the Leicester City forward, Williams travelled some hard yards in non-league football before winning a place back in the full-time professional ranks.
Unlike Vardy, Williams had experience of the Football League (with Walsall) before dropping into the semi-pro ranks to learn, and brush up, on his chosen trade.
It didn’t necessarily feel like it at the time, but Williams (22) believes a handful of seasons with Telford and Nuneaton could be the making of his career.
He returned on loan to Nuneaton yesterday (August 4) to find the form to persuade new manager Grant McCann to select him for the first-team.
Williams said: “Non-league football turns you into a man. You come up against defenders who have worked all week and all they want to do is kick you!
“You know you’re not going to get kicked, but you pick yourself up and carry on.
“I was disappointed when I left Walsall, but I grew up physically and mentally in my time outside the Football League.
“I’m delighted to have this second chance and I’m determined to make the most of it.
“I look at what Jamie Vardy did and it inspires me. It took him a few seasons to get in the Football League and he’s taken it by storm.”
Williams arrived at Posh on the same day as midfielder Callum Chettle last season.
Both were handed a trial by Posh after impressing in a successful Nuneaton side.
Williams scored on his full debut for Posh in a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Port Vale and again the following week, in a crucial 2-1 win at Doncaster.
“I’ve shown I can score goals at this level,” Williams added. “And I’m hungry for more.
“I was surprised to get into the first team so soon after arriving and scoring that first goal was a great feeling.
“But I have to kick on and keep improving. I wanted to hit the ground running in pre-season to try and impress the manager.
“If he wants a player to chase lost causes, I’ll be that man!
“I don’t mind running into channels, but I also don’t mind playing with my back to goal either.
“Pre-season was hard, but good. I was used to training in the summer in a local park in Nuneaton so flying off to Portugal for great weather and great facilities was a superb experience.
“Players generally don’t like pre-season, but I will treasure every minute of this one.
“It can’t fail to have helped me fitness-wise.”
SPOTLIGHT ON THE POSH STRIKERS
A strong first season as a Football League player yielded 11 goals. Will be out of action until October with a broken leg.
Postitives: The most natural finisher in the squad, good physical presence, decent technique.
Negatives: Can disappear too easily in games, big enough to score more headed goals.
Looks to have become the number one forward during pre-season, scoring two quality goals in one match against Leeds United.
Positives: Quick, energetic, great attitude.
Negatives: Doesn’t always see better-placed team-mates, not a natural finisher.
Nightmare first season at the club, struggling for form before struck down by serious injury.
Positives: Prolific goalscoring record, albeit at a much lower standard. Gets in good scoring positions.
Negatives: Missed scoring chances in his few appearances, fitness must be taken on trust.
Arrived at the ABAX with a big reputation. Scored on Posh debut before collecting a season-ending injury.
Positives: Has scored in big games for Exeter, good technically.
Negatives: Could do with improvement physically, no chance yet to forge a partnership with another striker.
A great player in his one full previous season at Posh. His career has gone off the rails since then.
Positives: Terrific turn of pace, scorer of high-class goals.
Negatives: Too similar to Coulthirst, another who tends to play with his head down.
Took the step up in standard from Nuneaton reasonably well. Shown he can score at League One level.
Positives: Good positional sense, willing worker.
Negatives: Still raw, lacks the speed of others. Technique needs work.