Bees defender Leon Legge believes he is a month a head of schedule when it comes to establishing himself as a regular in boss Andy Scott’s first team plans.
The 24-year-old made his home debut in Tuesday’s 5-2 FA Cup triumph over Gateshead just over six months after finishing last season with Ryman League Premier Division side Tonbridge Angels.
Legge, a care worker for adults with learning difficulties before he turned professional, had thought he wouldn’t make a senior level start until at least the new year.
But having already broken his duck in a 1-0 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat at Norwich City - as well as a substitute appearance at Yeovil Town - he is more than happy to have made such swift progress.
“Being a professional footballer is something I’ve wanted to do for years and at 24-years-old I thought the chance had gone,” he said.
“When I was in non-league I was sometimes going straight to play a football match on a Tuesday night after 12 hour shift. It was hard, but it didn’t bother me because I love the game.
“The main difference with being a pro is the fitness side of things. I’ve been putting in extra work and played a few reserve games now so I think I’m at the right level now and hopefully i can nick a place in the team.
“I didn’t think I’d get to play in the first team so early, I thought it would be more like January. I’ve played three times now, so I’m really happy with how it’s going.”
Legge made his debut at Carrow Road alongside Karleigh Osborne and the pair were re-united in the first team in last week’s cup win.
Osborne almost netted a goal of the season contender in the 2-2 draw with Millwall, and his defensive partner admits it “At the time I was on the bench and trying to see past Scotty, so I didn’t know it was Karleigh who hit it. I thought it was Marcus Bean,” he added.
“When all the lads said it was Karleigh I was like ‘no way!’. If he’d scored that one he’d have been going on about it for at least a week or two.
“He hasn’t been practicing those sort of shots before or since, he is just working on being a centre-half and defending at the moment.”