Yan Dhanda watched as one by one his friends dropped away to leave him the last boy standing.
The confused teenager could not understand why inferior players were rewarded while his pals were discarded.
As he progressed through the ranks, Dhanda began to fear there was a racial element to the baffling decisions.
And disgraced former FA chairman Greg Clarke's comments this week finally shone a light on a dark corner of British football which Dhanda feels has long been ignored.
Clarke was forced to stand down after making racial, homophobic and sexist slurs in Parliament on Tuesday.
Referencing Asian footballers, Clarke, who has also resigned from his role as FIFA vice-president, claimed they have different career interests and are more likely to find jobs in IT departments.
Dhanda, 21, who spent five years in Liverpool's academy before joining Swansea two summers ago, is one of only 10 British Asians playing professional football in the UK.
And he told Mirror Football : "I don't understand how in 2020 someone that high up in the FA can be stereotyping Asian people.
"It has proved the point I have been making for many years. For someone so high up and powerful to say it is the proof in the pudding.
"If he's said that publicly, imagine the people who haven't said it but who are thinking it.
"Growing up I had loads of friends who wanted to be footballers and that's all they wanted to be so I know what Greg Clarke said is not the case.
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"I've had a lot of friends who played for professional teams but they've not made it and I don't understand how when they're as good as if not better than players who have – and I'm not just saying that because they're my friends.
"Greg Clarke has put it out there now and people realise it's happening."
Dhanda's grandparents moved to the UK from India in the 1970s and with his family settled in Birmingham, his youth career began at West Brom.
"When I was young, I was lucky because there were a few Asian boys in my team who went to professional clubs with me but they haven't made it," he added.
"It hit me more when other kids would say stuff. I had comments about not making it because I'm Asian and that I should be working in a corner shop and that Asians can't play football because we're too weak.
"My coaches were always supportive but I can see other coaches and scouts stereotyping Asian players just like Greg Clarke did.
"I remember hearing the comments and getting worked up and emotional on the pitch but I channeled it in a good way.
"I was strong enough to keep going and keep going but I can understand why other kids would stop because they didn't want to put themselves through that every weekend.
"I'm proud of where my grandparents come from and I'm proud to be half-Indian. I'll do as much as I can to promote young Asians in football to make sure they don't have barriers to overcome."
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