With a football tucked under his arm, Gareth Evans saw the world with Manchester United.
Youth tournaments in Barcelona, Dallas, Tenerife, Ireland, Germany and Paris were included on the fixture lists for trainees.
Yet at the age of 14, Evans walked out of Old Trafford. This time his destination was Crewe.
Disillusioned at the lack of youngsters emerging through the ranks into the first-team, he opted to embark on a different route.
Today, the winger has amassed 329 appearances, scored 55 goals and on Tuesday joined Pompey in a 12-month deal with a year’s option.
Of his Red Devils year group, only Ryan Shawcross and Fraizer Campbell are still playing in the Football League.
Maybe it was a bit of a hasty decision at the time looking back with hindsight, but it has not done bad for me. I could well have stayed at Manchester United and dropped out of the game like the rest of my age groupGareth Evans
And, for the 27-year-old, it was a gamble he believes has richly paid off.
He said: ‘I started out at Crewe when I was six and when I got to the age of 10 Manchester United signed me.
‘I went there for four years, travelling all around the world playing in youth tournaments and really enjoyed it but, at the time, I just didn’t see a way of getting into the first team.
‘They weren’t producing players, they just bought Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Juan Sebastian Veron and it just seemed whenever they needed a player they would go out and buy one.
‘Whereas Crewe were producing your Dean Ashtons and Robbie Savages, player after player coming off the conveyor belt. It seemed a good idea to go there and make my way in the game that way.
‘I walked out of Manchester United, believe it or not!
‘Maybe it was a bit of a hasty decision at the time looking back with hindsight, but it has not done bad for me. I could well have stayed at Manchester United and dropped out of the game like the rest of my age group.
‘Of my group there was Ryan Shawcross, who has done well for him, and Fraizer Campbell who has done reasonably well as well.
‘Aside from that there’s no-one, the rest of them aren’t playing at all now and have completely dropped out of the game.’
Despite his move to Crewe he never made a first-team appearance, instead turning out of Macclesfield, Bradford, Rotherham and Fleetwood.
But Evans is pleased how his career has panned out.
He added: ‘At Crewe, players from my age group and the surrounding age groups were making it so it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
‘There was Luke Murphy (Leeds), James Bailey (Barnsley), Nicky Maynard has played for West Ham while Dean Ashton was a few years ahead of me.
‘Dario Gradi really wanted to bring me through and into the first-team but stepped down and my youth-team coach, Steve Hollands, became the manager.
‘That was the end of me at Crewe. I didn’t really get on with him.
‘A lot of the Crewe lads in my age group didn’t go on to play in the first-team the following year, while I had gone to Macclesfield and played 46 games in my first year so it probably did me better moving on again to be honest.’