Alfie Mawson's journey from selling fruit to living the Premier League dream
22nd March 2017
Just over three years ago Alfie Mawson was playing non-league football and selling fruit on his dad's stall in Ealing.
Fast forward the clock and Mawson - cherry-picked by the Swans from Barnsley last summer - is a Premier League player looking forward to adding another cap for his country at under-21 level.
Much has changed in the time when the centre-back was lacing up his boots while on loan at Welling United at non-league level.
But one thing is for sure, while Mawson's career has really taken off in that period, his feet have remained firmly on the ground.
"Three years ago I was playing non-league football. Now I'm playing for my country at U21 level and for Swansea in the Premier League. Things like that don't tend to happen to people like me," said Mawson, who hopes to feature for the young Three Lions in upcoming friendlies with Germany and Denmark.
"I was working on my dad's fruit and veg stall not so long ago. My best mate was also involved too. It still feels like yesterday.
"I used to sell lychees with my mate, and we used to have great fun. My dad still goes on about the day when I sold 250 small boxes of lychees when I was 14.
"It taught me a lot though. One of the most important things to me is manners. Saying thank you, please or just holding a door open for someone - it's a simple thing.
"Working on the stall taught me a lot of people skills and how I should act. I grew up a lot on that stall.
"When I was at Brentford as a scholar I used to go on the train down to work on the stall, and I still did it at times when I was on loan at Wycombe.
"Being a footballer in the Premier League shouldn't change you.
"To be honest, I still haven't got used to people asking me to sign something. I haven't got my head around it because, to me, I'm still the little Alfie from West London who worked on his dad's fruit and veg stall in Ealing."
Mawson should have perfected his autograph by now, given his recent form at club level.
Having started his career at Brentford, he left the club without playing a senior game for the club, though his loan spells proved fruitful.
Luton and Welling United offered him opportunities at non-league level, but it was at Wycombe where Mawson would catch the eye.
His performances there led to a move to League One club Barnsley, where his stock would continue to rise.
So much so that it led to a ticket to the big time - the Premier League.
Already a big favourite among the Jack Army, Mawson's goals - in particular - have helped the Swans in their fight against the drop so far.
And, minus a minor communication mishap, he feels his ability to connect with supporters have helped him settle on and the pitch.
"The fans have been brilliant with my since the day I arrived," he added. "I like to talking to the supporters and hearing what they have to say.
"It was quite funny because after I'd scored my first goal against Southampton I couldn't quite make out what the fans were singing.
"I thought they were singing 'Alfie Mawson's fat' - I felt I was in good shape to be honest! But then I realised they were singing 'Alfie Mawson is a Jack', so it all made sense.
"I had a good laugh about it - at least I know what they're singing now."