On the day of Sam Sutton's tenth birthday in December 2011, Ben Sigmund headed home a late Leo Bertos corner to give the Wellington Phoenix a 1-0 win over Perth Glory.
Just over eight years later, Sutton crossed the white line on the same patch of grass to make his own A-League debut. In doing so, he became one of the first wave of youngsters to transition from Phoenix fan to Phoenix player.
"It was a surreal moment. Even if it was only for a minute or so, it was just amazing to get on," remembers Sutton.
"I've always watched the Phoenix and it's always been a dream to get involved with the club. My wider family were together watching on TV and they were jumping around from what I heard.
"It was an honour for me."
A tenacious, attacking midfielder with an assured first touch, good vision, rare football intelligence and excellent technical ability, Sutton was spotted by Ufuk Talay shortly after the new coach arrived at the Phoenix last year. After watching him play for the Academy side just once, Talay fast-tracked Sutton into the first team environment.
"We brought him in to give him that experience and exposure," said Talay.
"He's a great kid with a great attitude and work ethic. From day one with us, he's worked hard and done all the right things.
"He's a very technical player but doesn't shy away from a challenge and gets on well with the boys," Talay said.
Sutton grew up on Auckland's North Shore and played his early football for the East Coast Bays club.
The Phoenix's Academy Director Paul Temple first saw him play as a 12-year-old and convinced him to come to Wellington two years later, with the entire Sutton clan upping sticks and relocating to the capital.
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"His character is phenomenal," said Temple.
"I cannot remember the last time he missed a training session. He's got a fantastic ability to be consistently good in his behaviours, mentality, attitude and performance, but he's also really humble and down to earth.
"He's a very likeable lad and obviously a very talented individual which has enabled him to make the progress he has, especially in the last 12 months or so."
Sutton's debut came on the fourth occasion he'd been included in the extended Phoenix match-day squad. Three weeks later he received a far greater taste of the A-League cauldron, sent on for the final 25 minutes against Western Sydney at home with Wellington holding a slender 1-0 lead.
"Sometimes you need to throw young players in the deep end and see if they sink or swim," said Talay.
"As a coach you have to pick the moments to do it. Sutts has the attributes to become a successful footballer and giving him the opportunity gives him confidence."
Sutton said, "It was good to get that gauge so I know where I have to be and to take that level of intensity into training. I now know the level I have to work towards. Confidence is a big thing in this sport and I have to back myself to be able to play in this league."
More opportunities are about to come Sutton's way as part of the 24-man Phoenix squad preparing for the resumption of the A-League season next week.
With up to nine matches possible before the end of August and five substitutes per game now allowed instead of the customary three, Sutton will inevitably add to his three first-team appearances. A first full-time contract will follow, with Talay keen to keep him at the club for at least the next two years.
Beyond that, Sutton dreams of emulating another Phoenix alumni, Sarpreet Singh, who has just completed his first year at German powerhouse Bayern Munich.
"When I was younger and in the Academy I always looked up to Sarpreet," said Sutton.
"I always knew he was class, but seeing what he's done is crazy. Libby [Cacace, the 19-year-old Phoenix left-back] will be the next one; everyone knows he's going to do amazing things and go far in football. He's a good mate of mine and he's chatted to me, telling me to keep my head down and I'll be the next one.
"It's always inspiring to see young New Zealand players doing what Sarpreet has done; it gives us extra confidence that Kiwi boys can do it. It's about keeping my head down, working hard and having the mentality that they have."
Temple has no doubt Sutton can go on to emulate Singh.
"He's got all the qualities; he now just has to translate them. The first step is to get into the first team, start games, do well and get more minutes in the A-League. If he does that, there's no reason why he can't be another one to progress on to even higher levels.
"That's what we're trying to do; not just create players for our first team, but create players who can go on and make those steps into the big leagues around the world.
"Hopefully he can be another one of those in the future."