Reece James is preparing for the biggest night of his career as Chelsea prepare to take on Premier League champions Manchester City in the Champions League final in Portugal.
The 21-year-old has been a real surprise package this term after establishing himself as the Blues’ first choice right-back under Frank Lampard, and more recently, Thomas Tuchel.
So far this term, James has made 46 appearances for Chelsea, including 33 starts in the Premier League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup and of course, the Champions League.
But while things are going swimmingly for the player, it’s worth remembering a vital step in his journey to stardom.
After coming through the youth ranks at Chelsea, James was sent out on loan in the summer of 2018 in order to gain a season of regular first team football.
Wigan Athletic were the club who secured his signing and to say he made a big impact at the DW Stadium is a huge understatement.
The right-back immediately established himself as a key player for Paul Cook’s side with his debut coming in a 3-2 home victory over Sheffield Wednesday – a game where he played the full 90 minutes.
Quiz: Were each of these 20 former Wigan Athletic players left or right footed?
Over the course of the campaign he went on to make 46 appearances for the club, 44 of which came in the starting XI.
He also scored three goals and created three more as the Latics consolidated their spot in the Championship after securing promotion the previous season.
While it was a solid, but unspectacular season for Wigan Reece James clearly made quite an impression with Frank Lampard giving him the opportunity to establish himself in Chelsea’s first team in 2019-20.
To say he’s taken that opportunity is an understatement but James will no doubt credit his time at Wigan Athletic as a major step in his journey to the biggest match in European football.