Convinced to go on one last trial by his dad, Dons defender Joe Walsh has gone from searching for a new career to the Welsh squad in just five years.
Now into his third season at Stadium MK, Walsh is establishing himself as a regular at centre half, and was called up to Chris Coleman’s Wales side in November - reward for his performances in League 1.
But could have been a chance missed - the 24-year-old defender was ready to draw a line under his career when he was released by Swansea, having fallen out of love with the game he’d grown up with.
Even an offer of a trial from Crawley Town didn’t entice Walsh to continue his career.
“If I wasn’t offered that, I would have given up - I’d lost my love for the game,” said Walsh.
“My old man nagged me and nagged me to go down there, and initially I was having none of it. Eventually I went and I think I trained for two days before I was offered a deal.
“I have no idea what I’d have done if I stopped playing, I don’t know where I’d be standing now. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”
Impressing at Crawley, he earned a move to Stadium MK, but suffered a frustrating, injury-struck first 12 months.
But for the last year, Walsh has been a regular at the heart of Dons’ defence, and his performances haven’t gone unnoticed.
He was called up to the Wales squad to face Serbia in November, and though he didn’t get his first cap, now has renewed ambition and wants to make it on the international scene - a far cry from wanting to give up in 2012.
He said: “I was just watching telly, ready for training the next day, and we were due a couple of days off so I was looking forward to that. But I got a call and they wanted me down at the training camp the following day, so I packed my bags and went down there.
“It was great to be a part of it. The quality of the players there, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey for example, training with them was unbelievable.
“Once you get a taste of it, and know what it’s like, you want to stay there. I want to be part of them all.
“It is an honour playing for your country. I’d done it for the U17s, U19s and U21s but getting called up to the senior squad made me and my family so proud. But the next step is obviously to get a cap.”
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