It’s been quite a year for Alfie Mawson.
Just over 12 months ago, he’d helped Barnsley win promotion to the Championship before he was signed by Swansea City and thrust into the Premier League where his impressive displays caught the eye of England Under-21s boss Aidy Boothroyd.
His first international start at any level came in November’s game with France and he’s not looked back since, becoming a key player for the Young Lions in their build-up to the European Championship.
- UEFA European U21 Championship Finals
- 5pm BST, Tuesday 27 June 2017
- Tychy City Stadium, Poland
- Live on Sky Sports 1
And now, as he prepares to face Germany for a place in the Euro final, the 23-year-old is hoping to top his season off with a title.
“It’s been a whirlwind, up-and-down season, starting in the Championship, then thrust into the big league, getting my England opportunity, it has been a roller coaster for me personally and the teams I’ve been involved with,” admits Mawson, who was still helping out at his father's fruit stall three years ago.
“I’m enjoying it. From my background, and the way I’ve come about the way I have, it has been a joy to be a part of and I take everything in my stride.
“If you’d ever asked me a year ago whether I’d be in the semi-final of a major competition, I would never have thought anything of it.
“But I’m here now and I don’t let things get in my head, speculation or certain comments, I’ve got to be happy I’m here and I’m very grateful.”
The west Londoner started his career with local club Brentford, but made the switch north to Barnsley after finding first-team chances at Griffin Park hard to come by.
And it’s that attitude of hard work and determination which Mawson prides himself upon with ambitions of getting better and one day performing on an even higher stage.
“At the moment, I’ve got to try and get past the finish line in this competition, and you don’t know what’s going to happen in a couple of years,” he explains.
“To get an England debut would be fantastic, as it has been for the U21s, it’s been a dream come true and something I never thought would happen.
“I’m very proud to be in this position, to be playing front of the fans and in front of my mum and dad. It means as much to me as it does to them. I love it.
“Some players have that natural born talent. I’m not one of them, I work hard, I’m very grateful because I’ve put the work in, and some things fall your way at times.
“I’m not someone who can take the foot off the gas, I know what would happen, I would take loads of steps backwards, and would get nowhere. I’ve got a taste for success now, for the Premier League now.
“I take it in my stride, keep going and keep going, and hopefully at the end of the week we’ve got another title.”
Tuesday sees Mawson and his team-mates face a Germany side who beat them by a single goal when the nations met in March, another game which Mawson started in.
And he knows it’s going to be a tough challenge for Boothroyd’s men in Tychy from what he remembers of that night in Wiesbaden and the squad's subsequent studies of them.
“They’ve got a lot of quality,” he admits. “We just have to believe in our quality and I’m more than certain we’ve got enough to win the game.
“There are loads of things we’ve taken into consideration, we’ve got our gameplan. But don’t underestimate your opposition, that’s the biggest thing.”Watch Tuesday's game live on Sky Sports 1, with kick-off at 5pm BST.