Rob Elliot has played in the Premier League and for his country but believes none of it would have been possible without a successful loan spell at Stanley.
The Newcastle United goalkeeper made his debut for the Reds a decade ago and went on to star as John Coleman’s team won the Conference title and promotion to the Football League.
He went on to return to Charlton and become number one before securing a move to St James Park and receiving international recognition with the Republic of Ireland.
But the 29-year-old feels that first step and first trophy was the key.
“It was probably career defining for me,” he explained. “I don’t think I’d be where I am now if I hadn’t gone on loan to Accrington. That set my stall out and introduced me to men’s professional football and gave me an opportunity to show what I could do. When I went back to Charlton I went back in higher stead.
“It’s probably the most pivotal moment in my career. Playing in the Premier League and Europa League and in internationals are obviously massive achievements and I’ll always remember them but none of it would have happened without Woking and the penalties and all the things I achieved with Accrington that season.
“I’m 30 this month and when I think about it I think it’s one of the best things that’s happened in my life.”
Elliot was one of the heroes of Stanley’s win at Woking ten years ago tomorrow, which secured the title and promotion, and his double second half penalty save at Kingfield has stayed with him.
“The ref gave the penalty, the lad took it and I saved it,” he remembered. “He then scored the rebound but I think there was encroachment or something and the ref asked for it to be retaken. He took it again, I saved it again and I remember being on the floor as he looked to get the rebound. I think it might have been Robbie Williams who gave him a little nudge as he went for it, I managed to get up off the floor and I think it just hit me really. It was more luck than judgement.
“The corner came in after that and the header was cleared off the line and later I think we cleared another off the line. Sometimes in life and in football things just line up for you and it was just one of those things. We knew that everything was with us that season, the luck and everything.”
Despite being one of the most successful members of the promotion team after his time in Lancashire ended, Elliot is keen to stress the importance of the whole squad and thinks that the current crop can learn from the past.
“Looking back now the quality of players was far too good for that level,” he concluded. “We were so fortunate to have those players. A lot of them have gone on to play in higher leagues and ultimately we proved to be too strong but the real reason we got promoted was the team spirit.
“We played brilliant football at times but we didn’t always win pretty. We pulled together and sometimes just ground it out and got the results.
“John Coleman and Jimmy Bell are working their magic again this season.They’ve got experience at this stage and hopefully this crop of lads can kick on and hopefully top what we did and be the next generation of lads who are taking Accrington Stanley to another level.”