At 24-years-old, Adam Roscrow could have been forgiven for thinking his dreams of making it as a professional footballer were all over.
He was on the cusp of achieving his ambition as a youngster with a year-long spell on Swansea City’s books before having trials at Cardiff City, Bristol Rovers and Ipswich Town. But nothing ever materialised.
After all these setbacks, Roscrow went back to playing for his local team Llantwit Major before playing for Cardiff Metropolitan University’s football team alongside his Sports Performance Analysis degree and then his masters in Sports Coaching and Pedagogy.
Roscrow joined a team that was destined to do well and under the guidance of Christian Edwards they rose up the ranks of Welsh football all the way to the Welsh Premier League.
But Cardiff Met Uni FC’s success reached new heights last month when they secured a place in the Europa League preliminary rounds after winning a play-off match against Bala Town via a nerve-wracking penalty shootout.
It was a result that deservedly attracted a lot of publicity as a team made up of current and former students came one step closer to facing the likes of Wolves, Rangers, or even Manchester United.
However, if they’re to get a glamour tie there’s still a lot of work to be done and Cardiff Met’s next obstacle sees them face FC Progres.
Cardiff Met must overturn a 1-0 deficit from the Luxembourg outfit going into the second leg in the Welsh capital on Thursday evening to keep their European adventure alive.
Roscrow will not play any part in the tie, however.
That’s because he’s no longer a Cardiff Met player. A matter of weeks after their qualification, Roscrow’s dreams of being a pro became a reality when he was snapped up by League One side AFC Wimbledon.
It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks for striker Roscrow, but there’s been no time to celebrate as pre-season training at his new club started very shortly after he signed on.
He told talkSPORT.com: “As soon as I signed I was obviously buzzing. I was really pleased and I’m just so grateful they’ve given me that opportunity to make that step up into professional football.
“My dad actually drove me down on the day I signed and he was with me. The family have been buzzing. Your parents play a huge part when you’re younger as they drive you here and there and support you.
“They’re pleased that the hard work I put in has finally paid off.
“It was a quick turnaround but it’s been exciting and challenging and nice to meet up with all the boys and getting to know everyone.”
“The big thing for me is that the manager (Wally Downes) really understands my game. That’ll make my life a bit easier when I’m playing because he knows what to ask of me. The fact that we’re on the same wavelength is only going to be a good thing.”
Of course, missing out on a Europa League tie does disappoint Roscrow but he reiterates the chance to sign for Wimbledon straight away was an opportunity he simply could not turn down.
However, he’s vowed to do everything he can to attend the second leg so he can cheer his former team-mates on.
He added: “At 24 you don’t necessarily think it’s going to happen [becoming a professional footballer] so I couldn’t really turn down the opportunity.
“A few people have said ‘oh you’ve turned down the chance to play in the Europa League’ but I didn’t want to put it off and risk getting injured in those two weeks and potentially ending the chance to sign for Wimbledon.
“It’s obviously a bit disappointing having gone through the journey with Cardiff Met and playing in Europe but I’ve been given this massive opportunity to become a footballer which is every young boy’s dream.
“Also I’d have joined up with the boys two weeks later if I had played in Europe and I think the manager wants a really good team ethos and for everyone to bond so I’d have missed out on two weeks of that. That’s also important.”
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There’s a very long way to go before Cardiff Met can think about the group stage (the second leg and FOUR qualifying ties to be precise) but Roscrow hopes this fairy tale story will also send a clear message to any who turn their noses up at the standard of football in Wales.
Roscrow said: “I’d be buzzing for them [if Cardiff Met made the Europa League group stage]. I’d be really excited for them and if they were to get there it would be thoroughly deserved.
“A lot of people look down on the Welsh Premier League and for want of a better phrase call it the ‘Mickey Mouse league’ and I think that’s unfair.
Roscrow’s rise has already earned comparisons with former England international Jamie Vardy, who started out at non-league Stocksbridge Park Steels before climbing the ladder and ending up at Leicester City, who would go on to win the Premier League in the 2015/16 season.
But Roscrow isn’t getting too carried away, insisting he has a long way to go before people can start comparing him to Vardy.
Roscrow added: “It just shows different routes can happen. I suppose if I was going to compare myself to a player of that standard it would be Vardy but I’m a long way off that.
“I think sometimes the more you think you want something to happen it doesn’t and I just played well this season and had a good run of form and things just unfolded.”
For now, Roscrow’s focus is on Wimbledon’s first league match of the 2019/20 season at home to Rotherham on August 3 which will hopefully mark just the very beginning of a new life for the Dons’ new No.10.
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