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York City's Ashley Chambers thrilled to bridge seven-year League Cup gap
YORK City attacker Ashley Chambers cannot wait for his second taste of League Cup action, having made his professional debut in the competition at the age of 15.
As a schoolboy, Chambers created club history when he was used as an 89th-minute substitute during Leicester City’s 2-1 victory over Blackpool back in 2005, and he remains the youngest ever footballer to play for the Foxes.
The Leicester-born forward, now 22, never turned out in the tournament again for his hometown club or for either Wycombe and Grimsby during loan spells at those two teams.
But, having helped the Minstermen secure promotion back to the Football League with a goal in May’s 2-1 Blue Square Bet Premier play-off final against Luton, Chambers is now looking forward to today’s curtain-raising first round tie at Doncaster in what is now known as the Capital One Cup.
He said: “I’ve still got all the memorabilia and pictures from that game for Leicester but it seems so long ago now. People can’t believe I’m only 22 and it’s really exciting to be in the competition again.
“At 15, the whole experience felt weird and surreal but it was great and I wouldn’t swap it for the world. It made me what I am today and made me a lot stronger.”
Chambers was at his grandmother’s house during a lunch break from school when he learned that he was to report for first-team duty at the end of his lessons that day.
He said: “My nan lived around the corner from school so I used to get my lunch there. She told me that day that I had to ring my mum at work and she then told me I had to be at the football that night.
“I said ‘I know I have to be there, I’m a ball boy’. But she said “No, you have to be there in your tracksuit because you’re in the squad’.
“I thought she’d probably made a mistake but my lessons that afternoon were a bit of a blur.”
Current Scotland boss Craig Levein was in charge at the Walkers Stadium back then and Chambers revealed the former Hearts centre-back made no fuss about the fledgling teenager’s call-up, even if he was the butt of a spot of dressing room banter from some of the senior pros.
“The manager did not treat me any differently,” Chambers remembered. “I was just like another player in the squad.
“I turned up and he announced the team and subs. There were a few jokes afterwards though.
“I remember Jason Wilcox saying I would be able to get some new school books with my win bonus. Unfortunately, I never got that (the win bonus)!”
Due to his late introduction, Chambers had little chance to make an impression.
The 5ft 8in forward did, however, make one slightly surprising contribution. saying: “I got one touch with my head funnily enough and then the final whistle went.
“I would have liked to have had more of a run out but it was still great. I got a terrific reception from the fans and I had a lot of friends in the stand.
“All my mates, who were in the academy with me, were actually ball boys too. They were sat watching me on the side of the pitch, which was a bit crazy.
“Friends and teachers were coming up to me the next day at school to tell me they had seen me playing.
“The teachers were really happy for me and it was good recognition for what at the time wasn’t a great school really so it was good for everybody involved.”
Should City negotiate a way past Doncaster, Chambers is in no doubt as to who he would like to face in the second round, saying: “I would love to draw Leicester.
“It’s a massive, massive club and it would be brilliant to go back on a personal level but it would be great for the club as well because it would be another big game for us to play in.”