Danny Drinkwater is heading for Euro 2016 as the new highlight in a senior career which started in the colours of Huddersfield Town.
Now 26 and a Premier League title winner with Leicester City, he has been selected in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for this summer’s European Championships in France.
Drinkwater was a relatively unknown midfielder on the fringe of things at Manchester United when he was brought in at Town by manager Lee Clark on a season-long loan for the 2009-10 campaign.
And when the England squad for the tournament was announced, Drinkwater Tweeted: “Honour to be selected for the 26-man England squad!
“Looking forward to meeting up with the lads.”
Doug Thomson speaks about Danny Drinkwater at Town
Drinkwater finished off Leicester’s campaign my scoring in their 1-1 draw at Chelsea on Sunday.
When he joined Town, Manchester-born Drinkwater had played only age-group and reserve football for United, but he quickly found his feet in League One.
Clark had seen Drinkwater’s composure on the ball, his ability to read the play and his eagerness to win key tackles in the ‘engine room’.
Those are qualities which Drinkwater has enhanced since in loan spells at Cardiff, Watford and Barnsley before his permanent signing by Leicester in January 2012, since when he has made over 150 King Power appearances.
Drinkwater made his Football League debut in Town’s 3-1 home win against Southampton on August 15, 2009, going on as a 72nd-minute substitute for Gary Roberts.
Replacing Antony Kay in the next match, at home to Brighton, he scored in a fantastic 7-1 win and then made his first start in the next match, a 1-0 defeat at Bristol Rovers.
Drinkwater had to be patient for a spell as injury kept him out of the reckoning, but he returned at the end of December to play a full part in Town’s run to the play-offs.
He was on target just once more, in the 6-0 win at Stockport, when he was playing alongside Kay, Roberts and Anthony Pilkington in midfield, with Jordan Rhodes and Theo Robinson up front (sharing duties with Lee Novak).
That season, Drinkwater played in the play-offs for the first time, Town drawing 0-0 at home to Millwall before being beaten 2-0 at The New Den.
Part of the Leicester team which won the Championship in 2013-14 before this season’s top-flight heroics, Drinkwater has made one international appearance against the Netherlands in March (England lost 2-1 but he was voted man of the match).
Manchester United teenager Marcus Rashford has been included in England’s Euro 2016 preparation matches.
Hodgson has named a provisional party that includes 18-year-old Rashford, less than three months after he made his first-team debut for United.
The uncapped striker’s impressive form has seen him fast-tracked into a group of forwards along with Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy, as Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll miss out.
Andros Townsend, who won the last of his 10 caps in October, comes in following Danny Welbeck’s knee injury, but there is no place for Theo Walcott.
Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson as the pair make their way back from injury, but Phil Jagielka is the high-profile defensive absentee, with the Everton defender left out as Hodgson opted for a seven-man defence.
The squad is:
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Fraser Forster, Tom Heaton.
Defenders: Nathaniel Clyne, Kyle Walker, Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling, John Stones, Ryan Bertrand, Danny Rose.
Midfielders: Dele Alli, Ross Barkley, Fabian Delph, Eric Dier, Danny Drinkwater, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, James Milner, Raheem Sterling, Andros Townsend, Jack Wilshere.
Strikers: Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy.
Meanwhile, former Town loan player Ben Chilwell is in the England Under 21 squad for the Toulon Tournament starting on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old Leicester City left-back played eight matches on loan for Town last season.
England play Portugal, Guinea, Paraguay and Japan in their group matches.
John Swift, who played for Brentford on loan from Chelsea in their Championship victory over Town on the final day of the season, is also in the squad for Toulon.