WHEN David Fox made his debut in the FA Youth Cup, for Manchester United, at the age of 17, Cameron Sangster was less than two months old.
Now, on occasions, the two share a dressing room, and Sangster wants to draw on his experiences playing with the Plymouth Argyle first team – alongside Fox – to assist him in his own cup quest.
Fox learned his trade, alongside players like Kieran Richardson and Darren Fletcher, at Old Trafford playing in competitions like this, forging a very fine playing career very much still alive, as he continues his excellent spell at Home Park.
Sangster, playing in Fox’s position, has been a focal point of this season’s crop of Argyle apprentices to have beaten Eastleigh, Wimbledon, Manchester City and Burnley in an extraordinary run to FA Youth Cup fifth round, where the Young Pilgrims now meet Fulham.
Cameron has also had a season filled with personal high points. He played a part in several first-team friendlies in pre-season, and has made the bench on several occasions during the campaign, making his debut as a late substitute against Oldham just before Christmas replacing, fittingly, David Fox.
“We were 4-1 up,” said Cameron, “and I was warming up looking at the gaffer, thinking it might be a chance to get me on. He gave me the call, and for a minute or two I was nervous, but as soon as I got on the pitch it was just another game.
“I look up to Foxy a lot. His standards are so high. He never gives the ball away. He is a great player; a great role model. He is the one getting people going before games. He’s a leader of the group, and I look up to him.”
Although their first and second round wins were exciting in their own ways, it was the third round tie with Manchester City that brought Argyle’s youngsters to the fore. The Pilgrims took the Academt team of one of the biggest clubs in the world to extra time and through a penalty shoot-out, emerging victorious.
A last minute winner at Burnley just furthered the fairy tale, and Sangster is still taking in a little.
“It’s been the highlight of my two years [ as an apprentice,” said Sangster. “The games that have been played, especially against Manchester City...that was probably the best night of my life. Beating such a top team, it will stay with me for the rest of my career.
“The feeling you get afterwards is immense. The Burnley game was also good, to score in the last minute was a great feeling.”
Fulham will present yet another test. They have so far knocked out Switzerland en route to round four, and have recently been awarded Category One status.
Argyle’s prize for getting through is a quarter final tie against either Tottenham or Chelsea.
Chelsea have won the past four iterations of the FA Youth Cup. In the last three finals they beat Manchester City, in the one before that they beat Fulham.
“We all know that they are going to be a top side,” said Cam. “We have been told that they will get the ball and run at us, but we’ve dealt with Man City, we’ve dealt with Burnley, and I’m confident we will deal with Fulham as well.
“We’ll defend well and try to nick a goal on the counter and see where that takes us.
“I hope we get a good crowd, like the Man City game. It gives you a boost; it will get the boys going.
“Every time you go out on to the pitch, under the lights, it’s a special feeling. It’s what you want to be doing. As an apprentice footballer, when you get this chance you have to take it.
“We don’t really think too far ahead. It’s just another game, really. You’ve got to try to relax under the pressure. The boys are used to it now. We’ve played on Home Park many times. Hopefully that will put us in good stead.
“We’ll work our socks off, defend for our lives, and hope to get the result we want.”
Wednesday's FA Youth Cup tie takes place at Home Park. Entry is £5 for adults, £3 for over 65s and £1 for under 18s. Commentary of the game will be streamed on pafc.co.uk for FREE - you will need to register/sign in to the site to listen.