The £1m sale of Jamie Vardy helped Fleetwood Town to the position they are now but chairman Andy Pilley will always ponder ‘what if?’.
The striker only spent nine months at Town after Pilley splashed £150,000 to bring him in during the summer of 2011.
It was money well spent as his 31 goals helped the class of 2011-12 to promotion.
Pilley had previously turned down offers but said it was not correct to stand in the way of his progression to the second tier with the Foxes.
The rest, as they say, is history; Pilley’s men have reached League One while Vardy has won the Premier League with Leicester and played for England.
Pilley to the Gazette on Friday he said: “The £1m helped us out but I would have much preferred to have kept him!
“I think if we would have kept him we would have steamrolled League Two as well as the Conference but we could not stand in his way.
“It was not morally right to stand in his way.
“We had a very grown up conversation in the January; I told him I’d signed him to get us in the Football League.
“He did that and I was as good as my word and we got him a good move.
“It was the perfect move for him; the right club and right management just like it was at Fleetwood.
“They have got the best out of him like we did.
“My best memories of him are of his trademark one-on-one goals.
“He had such ability. He had that exceptional pace to catch defences off guard and his finishing was also exceptional.
“He was a character off the pitch too and that certainly made him stand out.”
Of that 2011-12 team only one man, Nathan Pond, remains at Town.
If Vardy shakes off a groin knock the two will do battle on the pitch; a duel Pilley would love to see.
He said: “That would be great; Pondy is the last man standing from that class of 2012.
“They went 33 games unbeaten and it was an exceptional team with an exceptional team spirit. I’d really love to see them play.”
The money from the game being shown live on TV has enabled Town to bring in Paddy Madden and Gethin Jones this week.
A fourth round tie would boost the coffers even more but Pilley is not looking ahead; he will be relishing the moment, albeit not from Highbury but from a TV screen in the Caribbean.
He said: “I think I could have dreamed it but it is reality now.
“The focus is all on today and giving it everything; who knows what will happen?”