Luke McCullough arrived home this week fresh from one of the most surreal experiences he can expect to face across his football career.
The Portadown-born centre-back last week shared the pitch with Louis Tomlinson, a member of record-breaking boyband One Direction who signed a special deal with his boyhood club to raise funds for charity.
Luke helped Doncaster Rovers reserves record a clean sheet against Rotherham United in the midweek league match - with pop idol Louis introduced for the final 25 minutes or so as a substitute.
Around 5,000 turned up for the game and it was obvious to everyone on the pitch that, for the majority of the fans, the main attraction was seated on the bench.
“Probably 90 per cent of the crowd was made up of young girls and they just kept screaming for Louis every time he went for a warm-up along the sidelines,” said Luke. “It was certainly quite a weird experience but good publicity for the club and a great way to help raise funds for charity.
“In fairness, Louis was quite quiet in the dressing room and certainly did not come in with any kind of big ego.
“He actually came in quite a bit leading up to the match to work with our fitness staff and it was obvious he really is a genuine Doncaster fan who loved the idea of playing for the club.”
The match provided Luke with another competitive appearance under his belt in what has turned into a positive first season with Rovers.
The former Manchester United Academy captain has clocked up 14 senior appearances across the Championship and FA Cup.
“It is all part of developing my game and learning as much as possible from every opportunity,” he said. “I had a run in the first-team starting line-up and then the manager explained how he wanted more experience in the side.
“I was on the bench last weekend for Rovers’ Championship game and have had more senior experience than I could have maybe anticipated but obviously also want to build on the minutes so far.
“Playing for the reserves helps give me minutes on the pitch and it is all about picking up as much as possible.”
Luke was on home soil this week as part of Northern Ireland under 21s’ squad for the European Championship qualifying game against Italy in Lurgan.