Newport striker Jamille Matt hopes to pile FA Cup misery on Leicester after once playing in Jamie Vardy’s shadow at Fleetwood.
Matt joined Fleetwood eight months after Vardy moved on to Leicester in May 2012, with the £200,000 move actually topping the Cod Army’s record £150,000 fee they paid for the future England international in August 2011.
Unlike Vardy, Matt has never escaped the lower leagues, but there is not a hint of jealousy as he plots a spot of third-round giant-killing at Rodney Parade on Sunday.
“Everyone spoke so highly of him at Fleetwood and he’s gone on to do everything,” Matt said.
“He’s been promoted from the Championship, won the Premier League and played for England.
“It’s amazing to do that coming from non-league and, as someone myself whose come from that level, I’m kind of proud of what he’s achieved.”
Matt has only come up against Vardy once before and it did not end well for the Leicester striker.
Vardy was sent off playing for Fleetwood against Matt’s Kidderminster on September 20, 2011, although the Cod Army did go on to win the National League fixture 5-2.
Matt has had his own hurdles to overcome in a lower-league career spent at Kidderminster, Fleetwood, Stevenage, Plymouth, Blackpool, Grimsby and now Newport.
Injuries stopped him making his mark at Fleetwood as he missed the entire 2014-15 season with cruciate ligament damage.
Jamaican-born Matt was also prevented from playing for eight months at Kidderminster in 2012 when the UK Border Agency examined
Matt moved to London from the Caribbean with his family at the age of 10, but the Border Agency launched an investigation as he did not have a British passport.
“It came out of the blue and it was difficult,” Matt said.
“It was worse than an injury as there was nothing physically wrong with me.
“But it’s something that’s helped me in my career mentally, because you realise there are other things tougher in life than the pressure of having a big game.
“If you sit there and think ‘this is the worse thing ever’ nothing’s going to change.
“But we dealt with it – Kidderminster were great in helping me to sort it – we got a good outcome and it’s in the past now.”
Matt has tasted the big occasion in being part of Wembley play-off final squads at Fleetwood and Plymouth, and he wrote his name into Grimsby folklore last season with the goal that kept the Mariners in the Football League.
The 29-year-old has never played against Premier League opposition, but is confident the Exiles can write another memorable cup chapter after last season’s exploits when Leeds were beaten and Tottenham held at home.
“The reason you play football is to take part in these type of games,” said Matt, who has scored 13 goals for League Two Newport this season.
“If you didn’t think you could win you wouldn’t even bother turning up.
“As far as we are all concerned, Sunday can’t come quick enough.”