Louis Moult is quick to pinpoint the period in his life which gave his football career a kick-start it needed.
It was an 18-month spell playing in the Conference with Nuneaton, one which he combined with two other jobs.
Moult, who completed a £450,000 switch to Preston from Motherwell on New Year’s Day, will forever be grateful for that time.
He had started out with Stoke City, having a brief taste of the Premier League.
But it all became a bit of a struggle until he dropped into non-league, developed physically, and got a good grounding in life away from the football pitch.
Successful moves to Wrexham and Motherwell followed, now he is back in England at North End and preparing to sample life in the Championship for the first time.
A hamstring strain will delay his Preston debut slightly, and he is unlikely to face Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup this weekend.
But it should not be long until Moult is pulling on the white shirt and looking to carry his goalscoring form of the last few seasons into his time in Lancashire.
He watched PNE’s 3-2 defeat to Middlesbrough on Monday from the stand, the manager stood in the away team’s technical area that afternoon being Tony Pulis who was Stoke boss when Moult broke into the senior game.
“I started at Stoke, my home-town club, as a youngster,” said Moult.
“Pulis gave me my chance at Stoke, then I went out on loan where I struggled a bit and didn’t make the kind of impact I wanted to.
“I wasn’t physically ready at the time and eventually I dropped down to Conference level to play part-time football.
“That was the best thing I ever did if I’m honest.
“Doing that grounded me, it made me the person I am today.
“I went to Nuneaton where I would train on a Tuesday and Thursday night. During the day I worked as a painter and decorator, while I also got a coaching job at Stoke’s academy.
“I was coaching their Under-8s and 9s, it used to be a bit of rush on a Saturday morning coaching the kids and then getting to my match in the afternoon to play.
“But it was something I loved doing, giving something back to the community and seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces.
“It was a brilliant time.”
Moult scored 17 goals for Nuneaton in 2013/14, before moving on to Wrexham in June 2014.
He found the net 22 times for the Welsh club which brought him to the attention of Motherwell.
They lured him north of the border in the summer of 2015, one of his early goals in ’Well colours coming in a friendly against North End.
His two-and-a-half years in Scotland was a productive time for Moult, the striker netting 50 goals.
Two of that half-century haul came in the Scottish League Cup semi-final win over Rangers at Hampden Park in October.
Among the crowd that day were PNE manager Alex Neil and Peter Ridsdale, the advisor to North End owner Trevor Hemmings.
That was one of several games when Preston checked out what Moult had to offer.
Suitably impressed, they made their move for him last month as he moved into the final six months of his ’Well contract.
They stole a march over several other interested clubs, agreeing his move to Deepdale, which became official on January 1 when the transfer window opened.
Said Moult: “When I spoke with Alex Neil, he told me he had been to watch me a number of times, it wasn’t just a case of having watched me once.
“He knows his Scottish football because he has managed and played there.
“From day one he made it very clear that he wanted to bring me to Preston.
“I had other clubs who were interested in me but Preston were the club who acted on that interest.
“They quickly told me how interested they were and that went a long way in me making my decision to come here.”
Moult cannot speak highly enough of his time at Motherwell, one of his Fir Park team-mates being ex-PNE midfielder Liam Grimshaw.
“Grimmy spoke very well of the club,” said Moult, 25.
“I knew him before he went to Preston because he’d been at Motherwell on loan.
“Being local, he gave me a few pointers of where to live, a bit of advice like that.
“Motherwell was a great club for me, I have so many highlights from there.
“The biggest highlight were the two goals I scored in the semi-final a couple of months ago.
“The way the second goal came about, I will always be remembered for that.
“During my time there I scored against Celtic, played in a cup final, while I scored four goals in a game against our main rivals Hamilton.
“I’m now ready for the next challenge here and I’m really excited by it.
“I play down the middle, like to work hard and score goals – that is what I’m paid to do.
“I’ve met all the lads and being around the place this week has allowed me to see how things are done here.
“I can’t quite train yet due to having a slight injury but hopefully I can join in next week.”