A "miracle" journey has propelled Gael Bigirimana from war-torn Burundi to soccer stardom in the English Premier League with Newcastle United.
Separated from his mother as he fled to Uganda as a child, they were reunited later in the UK.
And his big break may never have happened had she not sent him on a fateful trip to the shops to buy a pint of milk.
His errand took him right past the training academy at third division club Coventry City, when he felt compelled to knock on the door and ask for a trial.
"I heard this small voice inside of me saying 'Go and play' and I thought, 'Okay.' I obeyed that voice," Bigirimana told CNN's Human to Hero series.
"I said a prayer: 'God, these guys don't know me, I don't know them and so everything I say to them just make them say yes -- even if they don't understand me just make them say yes, yes, yes!' "
The precocious boy, then aged 10, tapped youth coach Ray Gooding on the shoulder and asked if he could play.
It was a meeting that would change Bigirimana's life forever.
Gooding promised the kid -- who used to run to school to save paying the modest bus fare -- that he'd pop along next time he played in a match.
Overjoyed, Bigirimana scurried home to tell his family -- but he didn't get far.
"I was really excited, then I started jogging, not even sprinting, just jogging with happiness," he explains.
"As I was jogging up the hill to go back home, they stopped me. They called me back and said 'Do you have your own equipment? Boots and stuff?' I didn't but I said yes and then they said, 'Come back tomorrow and start training.'
"They said they saw me running fast, like an athlete. That's where I believe God showed them something, like a glimpse of the future -- how I was going to turn out to be.
"God's favor has just been amazing -- going there, signing, playing for two years, I got moved up to the age above and everybody started becoming like a family at Coventry. Until now my life has just been extraordinary, a blessing."
When Gooding moved to join the academy at Newcastle United in the northeast of England, his new employers asked if there were any bright prospects at Coventry that might interest them.
Although it would take four years to get his man, Bigirimana eventually signed with the club -- renowned for stars such as Alan Shearer and Paul Gascoigne -- for £1 million ($1.6 million) in July 2012.
Now 19, he harbors the hopes and dreams of some of most passionate supporters in the country -- known as the Toon Army -- and is watched by billions of football-mad fans across the globe.
In his first season at the club he featured against Premier League champions Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and played in Newcastle's Europa League quarterfinal with Portuguese giants Benfica.
He has also represented his adopted country at under-20 level.
"It's nothing but a miracle, where I've come from to be in this place," he said. "If somebody told me two years ago or five years ago that I'd be here, I'd say 'You're crazy.'