YORK City defender Shaun Pejic cannot believe he has swapped Wrexham reserves for Wembley in the space of five weeks.
Pejic was almost ready to write off his season at the Racecourse Ground, having made just one appearance for the Welsh club back in September.
But, now, the 26-year-old centre-back will have the chance of rounding off the 2008/9 campaign at the hallowed home of English football after Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Telford secured a 4-1 aggregate victory and a place in the FA Trophy final on May 9.
Pejic only made his City debut in last month’s quarter-final victory over Havant and Waterlooville and has enjoyed just seven appearances for the KitKat Crescent club.
The Hereford-born defender has admitted, therefore, that reaching Wembley represents an unexpected treat.
He said: “I went to the old stadium once as a supporter, but I was too young to really remember it, so getting to Wembley as a player is very exciting. It never crossed my mind that I would be enjoying this kind of occasion a month ago.
“For me, coming to York was just a great opportunity to play football. All I was looking for was to get a few games under my belt.
“I never really thought the potential was there to play at Wembley. It’s a massive bonus for myself and the team as well because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Pejic went on to describe the scenes at the final whistle as “amazing” when the players were mobbed by a good-natured pitch invasion and later acclaimed by singing City fans after they reappeared in the directors’ box.
He said: “That was an amazing experience. The support was great and a terrific way to end the match.
“It’s nice to see it meant so much to the fans and they will have a great day out now at Wembley.”
With Pejic only contracted at KitKat Crescent until the end of the season, the Trophy final might represent his farewell game for the Minstermen.
The former Welsh under-21 international joined City after being released by Wrexham, where he has spent the last nine years.
But, while City manager Martin Foyle was under the impression that Pejic was heading for the United States this summer, the 6ft defender stressed that nothing was set in stone yet.
He said: “There’s some slight interest from America but I can’t really say what might be on offer because nothing is guaranteed. I’m keeping my options open and anything could happen yet.
“If the opportunity arose to stay at York, I would consider everything at the end of the season. But, if Wembley was to be my last game in this country or for York, it would be a great way to sign off.”
Pejic has kept fit-again City stalwart David McGurk out of the starting line-up for the last three matches but believes his presence on the bench has had a positive effect, saying: “You’ve got to have competition for places. I don’t know David very well, having only been here for a few weeks, but it’s nice for the gaffer to have a variety of players to choose from and it keeps me on my toes to keep putting in good performances.”
With Kettering now visiting KitKat Crescent in the Blue Square Premier tomorrow night, Pejic also feels the Minstermen are capable of climbing to safety in the league.
He said: “Saturday was all about Wembley and we have got there now. The next massive achievement needs to be staying in the league and I feel the side we have and the football we play is good enough to win the games to secure survival.”