IT TOOK then Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy less than 10 minutes to offer Tyrone Mings his first professional contract.
In 2012, England’s newest recruit was playing part-time for non-league Chippenham Town while working as a mortgage advisor.
Ipswich legend and Escape to Victory Star Russell Osman’s son, Toby, played with him at Chippenham.
He recommended Mings, 26, to his dad, who worked at the Tractor Boys’ academy, and he was soon in Suffolk for a trial.
Speaking to SunSport, McCarthy recalls: “I was walking down to the training ground with Russell, we saw the game start and by the time I walked around the pitch my mind was made up.
“He made a header, won a tackle, and put the ball past someone. I took him off after 70 minutes so he wouldn’t get injured.
“As I took him off he had the hump, I said hold on a minute. I’m taking you off because I want to sign you.
“He might have been sh*te for the next 85 minutes but he wasn’t and he just got better and better. He was absolutely nailed on to be a footballer.”
After Ipswich snapped him up for just £10,000, Mings tweeted: “This is for everyone who laughed when I said I wanted to be a footballer or said I wouldn’t make it.”
He had to bide his time behind Aaron Creswell before making his debut away at Burnley at the end of the 2012/13 season.
And after two seasons marauding down the flank at left-back, Eddie Howe signed him at Bournemouth for £8million.
McCarthy adds: “He was a better left-back at the time – we allowed him to run freely down the left hand side – he had good pace, put good crosses in and always defended the far post.
“I knew he would be a centre-back because of his size and strength but he needed to learn a bit more awareness about himself and others on the pitch.
“He was a competitor, didn’t mince his words and was a peer in the dressing room straight away. He had opinion about himself, and still does, and can see captaincy material.
“Sometimes you had to put him back in his box but he is someone you wanted in your dressing room.
“Dean Smith asked me about him when he was on loan, and I said absolutely. He’s become the player I always thought he would from the very start.”
Yet rewind a few years and the prospect of paying for his country must have seemed a pipe dream,
Spending time in a homeless shelter with his mother Dawn and three sisters when at primary school gave him a broader perspective.
After being axed by Southampton’s academy in 2009 a two-year scholarship at Millfield School softened the blow.
And he ended up as a mortgage adviser for London & Country in Bath in 2011 as an 18-year-old.
But he was then picked up by side Yate Town, siting three tiers below the conference.
Michael Meaker was player-coach at the Gloucestershire club, and was desperate for them to get Mings tied down on a contract, aware of his potential.
With money tight at such a small club, it wasn’t possible, and over the course of a season Meaker witnessed a ready-born star.
He said: “We knew all about him from a young age and when his dad, a big influence for Tyrone, approached asking for a trial for his lad, we just thought ‘wow’.
“He was quite a gangly, skinny kid but he was very skilful, fit and quick.
“He trained so hard and was so, so good in the air. He was hungry and arrogant in a good way.
‘NOTHING FAZED HIM’
“We used to joke that he was so vain but that’s just the way he was.
“He’s a bubbly character, always making jokes, but then on the pitch he becomes this very serious athlete.
“Nothing ever fazed him. Even back then we could have thrown him in front of 40,000 fans and he would perform at the same standard.”
Mings is known for his charitable side, especially after feeding the homeless on Christmas Day at Ipswich, and continues to inspire by helping out at Meaker’s ‘No.1 Football Academy’ back in Bristol.
Meaker added: “I spoke to him a few days ago and we had some banter because in my career I was called ‘The Meaks’ and I said he is now officially ‘The Mings’.
“He laughed and said: ‘Absolutely’. He’s just a proper gentleman.”
Mings then moved to Chippenham in 2012 – and it wasn’t long before team-mate Osman Jr recommended him to Ipswich.
He said: “His dad was the manager the season before he came. He is very funny but has a reputation as a bit of hard man on the non-league circuit.
“He was very slim but knowing his dad I could see he was going to fill out.
“I told my old man it might be worth having a look at him, because how sought after today are big, 6ft plus left-footed defenders?
“Dad came to watch him versus St Albans and it couldn’t have worked out better.
“He had a ding dong battle with big ex Fulham striker Barry Hayles. He played really well and I don’t think Barry expected that strength, drive and determination against a kid.
“Tyrone had talents a lot of academy kids don’t, that fighting mentality.
When Mings left Ipswich in 2015 McCarthy tipped him for England honours.
And his old coach Meaker said: “There are a lot more England caps on the table for him. Gareth Southgate has taken a risk with young players and it isn’t surprising that Tyrone is a part of that.”