For much of seven years, Luke Shaw, guided by his parents Paul and Joanna, would make the lengthy trip along the M3 to Southampton's Staplewood training ground from his home town of Hersham, Surrey.
The promising full-back would be ferried up to four training sessions a week to join a group including James Ward-Prowse, Callum Chambers and Harrison Reed. Having suffered rejection by Chelsea, his beloved club, Arsenal and Fulham, Shaw eagerly accepted Southampton's offer for him to join their prestigious academy, making his first-team debut aged 16.
It was an FA Cup third round tie against Milwall when Nigel Adkins, Saints manager at the time, summoned Shaw, a blond-haired teenager with a face exuding determination, to replace Jason Puncheon, a future colleague of his. Reports surfaced of interest from Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea but Shaw remained at Southampton, continuing his regular treks along the M3.
Southampton were now aware of his mercurial excellence, and following their promotion to the Premier League, offered Shaw a professional contract. It was the beginning of the full-back's meteoric rise.
The 18 year-old has excelled to the extent that he beat veteran Ashley Cole to Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad, earning his first international cap following a 45-minute cameo against Denmark in February. He is passionate and committed, Hodgson's call in February reducing the Southampton starlet to tears of joy. The two-hour trips along the M3 were wholly worthwhile.
His impressive displays have attracted a plethora of interest, most prominently from Manchester United, yet Shaw, as he did in 2012, must ignore speculation and continue his delightful development in the South Coast, regardless of manager Mauricio Pochettino's future.
The Argentine has been pivotal to Shaw's extraordinary rise, instilling faith into youth in developing the likes of Callum Chambers and James Ward-Prowse. The 42 year-old is in-demand, with the managerial vacancy at Tottenham Hotspur seeming the most feasible option, and with Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez primed for potential moves, Southampton seem open for business.
They have done so ever since Nicola Cortese's unceremonious departure from the club, increasing the likelihood of their star players, including Shaw, departing to Champions League teams and seeking a sterner challenge.
While Lallana is expected to complete a move to Liverpool, Manchester United are keen on Shaw's services as they rebuild from a disastrous campaign. United chiefs want the 18 year-old to replace the disillusioned Patrice Evra, and following target Leighton Baines's signature of a four-year contract at Everton, they have concentrated their efforts solely on the Southampton starlet.
He is additionally subject of interest from Chelsea but following Jose Mourinho's admiration of Sevilla's Alberto Moreno, hinting at the Blues' withdrawal from the race to secure Shaw, Old Trafford seems his most likely destination, for a reported fee of £27m.
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