Former Arsenal player Roarie Deacon is enjoying life in Scotland after shining in last season’s FA Cup.
Deacon came through Arsenal’s academy but didn’t make a first team appearance for the team.
He made his way down to the Conference to play for Sutton United during the 2016-17 season, and it proved to be a turning point in his career.
Deacon was a key player during their run to the FA Cup fifth round, when they were eliminated by Arsenal.
The game was notable for the number of Arsenal academy graduates in the Sutton squad.
Along with Deacon, there was Craig Eastmond, Jeffrey Monakana, and Jack Jebb.
Reflecting on the occasion, Deacon revealed that the Arsenal players were surprised by how competitive Sutton were.
“The build up was crazy as there was a few of us who came through the ranks at Arsenal – Craig Eastmond, Jeffrey Monakana, Jack Jebb, the focus was on us,” he told the S*n.
“After they beat us Theo Walcott came in and told us we did very well and admitted they didn’t think we would be that competitive and have those fitness levels.
“Even Ray Parlour came in to see us as said we gave a good account of ourselves, they were very respectful.”
Sutton’s cup run, though, came at the expense of their league form.
Deacon admitted that the team were unable to focus on Conference games when they had big games against Leeds and Arsenal to look forward to.
“In the cup we were a different animal, we went into every game wanting to win,” he said.
“It was hard to comprehend when you look back on it you think it’s easier to be up for the game against Arsenal and Leeds, it’s a different mentality.
“And when you go away in the Conference, you’re travelling and your thinking if you want to be here.
“It’s not that we didn’t take the league seriously, we should have been promoted with the team we had.
“We lost our focus because we were doing so well in the FA Cup and our league form suffered.”
The winger made the move to Dundee in Scotland, and is enjoying the step-up in competition.
“I sat down with Liam my agent and my family and felt it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down to play at places like Rangers, Celtic, Hearts and Hibernian,” he explained.
“They are massive clubs and you’re playing in front of big crowds, it was a chance I couldn’t pass up.
“The standard is a big step up for me, certain SPL games are Championship level and some are top of League One.
“Celtic, could easily move from the Championship and be promoted to the Premeir League, they play great football.
“I moved to Sunderland when I was younger, I was a kid and living away from home in my own place, I had a lot of freedom and I can’t lie and say football was my first priority.
“So I wanted another chance like this to go somewhere and perform and Dundee was the right place for me.
“I wanted to see if I had matured, and I can honestly say I have now.”
The 26-year-old is further proof that players can leave top clubs, drop down a few levels and make the step-up later in their careers.