HE has represented his country, played in the Premier League and taken part in an Auld Firm derby but one experience still eclipses all those achievements for York City’s new striker Moses Ashikodi.

The 6ft tall forward – expected to kick off his City career at Forest Green today – was only 15 years and 240 days when he made his Football League debut for Millwall during a Championship match against Brighton in February 2003.

In doing so, Ashikodi, who played alongside seasoned campaigner Steve Claridge in that match, became the youngest player to feature in a professional game during a 20-year period between 1988 and 2008.

He remains proud of that feat despite counting Theo Walcott, Joe Hart, Micah Richards and Adam Johnson as former Three Lions team-mates and going on to share a pitch with the likes of Carlos Tevez.

Recalling his record-breaking appearance for the Lions after making City his 12th club this week, Ashikodi recalled: “Making my debut at the age of 15 was definitely the highlight of my career so far. It was amazing and the best-ever feeling in my life.

“I wasn’t scared or anything and I didn’t sleep the night before because I couldn’t wait to play. It was a great experience and, at school the next day, I was the most popular boy around. I was in the papers and, all of a sudden, all the girls wanted to know me.”

Ashikodi’s potential did not go unrecognised by international selectors either.

He played at four different levels for England from under-16 to U19s, scoring goals against Switzerland and Wales and rubbing shoulders with several players who will play prominent roles in the current national team’s Euro 2012 challenge next summer.

Remembering that exciting period of his career, Ashikodi said: “I played with the likes of Joe Hart and Theo Walcott but the two that really, really stood out for me were Micah Richards and Adam Johnson. They were head and shoulders above everybody else and I’m not surprised how well they are doing now at Manchester City.

“They’ve worked very hard and listened to the right people to help them along the way and I think they both deserve to be where they are and should be starting games for England.”

A player who started more than half-a-century of international matches, meanwhile, also helped nurture Ashikodi following his switch from Millwall to London neighbours West Ham.

Bobby Zamora and Sergei Rebrov were on the Upton Park books at that time but it was Teddy Sheringham, then aged 38, who made the biggest impression on the Nigerian-born youngster.

“He was a top striker and, even though he was at the tail end of his career, he was a very good player to learn from,” Ashikodi admitted. “He told me to always listen to older professionals and to do things simple. He taught me not to complicate things but to pass, give, move and get into the penalty box.”

Leaving the Hammers for Glasgow Rangers, Ashikodi’s one and only taste of football north of the border came in arguably the most passionate derby match in world football.

“I played against Celtic and it was the most intimidating game I had played in in my life,” the 24-year-old frontman confessed. “The fans are so noisy you cannot hear each other speak.

“It was frightening but I learned a lot up there. I probably left a bit too soon and should have been patient and fought for my place.”

Instead, Ashikodi returned to England and played top-flight football for Watford against Aston Villa and his Tevez-inspired former club West Ham.

Spells at Bradford, Swindon, Hereford and Shrewsbury followed, however, before Ashikodi dropped into non-League football, with two spells at Kettering sandwiching a prolific 16 games for Ebbsfleet, where he netted 11 times.

He has also arrived at Bootham Crescent having scored six games in his last 11 matches at Kettering following a controversial incident in October when he was sent off along with team-mate Jean-Paul Marna as the two players fought over who should take a penalty.

That incident saw old question marks over Ashikodi’s temperament revisited, dating back to a training ground incident at Millwall which saw him released by the Lions after allegedly brandishing a plastic knife at a team-mate.

Unsurprisingly, he resents the bad-boy jibes that he insists are unwarranted, explaining: “People mistake me for something I’m not because of one incident when I was 15.

“That was a very long time ago and I’ve never been in trouble like that since. I’ve had a few arguments with players but no big issues.

“People don’t know what happened back then at Millwall but don’t seem to want to let it go. They should ask me if they want to find out the truth.

“I was being bullied at the time and it did not damage my career because I went on to join West Ham.”

Ashikodi added that he is delighted to be reunited with former Kettering team-mate and close friend Andre Boucaud in North Yorkshire and is planning on turning his loan stay into a more permanent arrangement.

He said: “I want to still be here beyond January because I’d like to help to get the club higher up the table and get a lot of goals so that everybody is happy.”

Duo step up pace for second spot

IN-FORM pair Michael Ingham and Scott Kerr have moved up to joint-second place in The Press Player of the Year standings.

Kerr picked up three points towards the contest after winning our man-of-the-match award at Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Barrow.

Goalkeeper Ingham (two) and left-back James Meredith (one) were also rewarded with points as The Press’ second and third-highest rated players respectively at Holker Street.

As a result, Ingham and Kerr now lie 16 points behind runaway leader Jason Walker.

Kerr also shared the two Player of the Month bonus points on offer with Jamal Fyfield after the two players received the same number of man-of-the-match votes from visitors to our website.

To be in with a chance of presenting November’s Player of the Month with their prize before a City home game, vote for your man of the match from today’s game at Forest Green.

The Press Player of the Year standings: Walker 28 points, Ingham 12, Kerr 12, Chambers 11, Meredith 10, Moké 9, McLaughlin 7, Smith 7, McGurk 6, Oyebanjo 6, Boucaud 5, Fyfield 5, Blair 4, Challinor 4, Henderson 1.

The November Press Player of the Month standings: Kerr 7, Ingham 6, Boucaud 1, Fyfield 1, Meredith 1.

Goals: Walker 15, Chambers 7, McLaughlin 6, Reed 3, Blair 2, Moké 2, Boucaud 1, Challinor 1, Fyfield 1, own goal 1, Pilkington 1.

Assists: Chambers 8, Meredith 5, Moké 5, Walker 5, McLaughlin 4, Blair 3, Kerr 2, Potts 2, Challinor 1, Henderson 1, McGurk 1, Oyebanjo 1, Reed 1, Smith 1.

Bad boys: McGurk 6 yellow cards; Boucaud, Walker both 1 red, 3 yellow; Blair, Challinor, Kerr all 3 yellow; Fyfield, McLaughlin, Moké, Parslow, Reed, Smith all 2 yellow; Chambers, Ingham, Meredith, Oyebanjo all 1 yellow.