Lifting a trophy is career-defining for any player – no less for Adam Lallana who was a part of the Southampton team that were crowned winners of the EFL Trophy over a decade ago.
For the midfielder, who spent eight years with the Saints after rising through the ranks of Southampton’s youth-setup, that 2010 triumph is far from a distant memory.
“It’s an amazing experience,” he reflected. “It’s different playing for your national team but with your domestic finals at Wembley, you get such a good atmosphere; it’s a different atmosphere.”
The Saints cruised to a 4-1 victory over Carlisle United under the arch and the midfielder made the scoresheet, alongside Rickie Lambert, Papa Waigo and Michail Antonio.
That triumph set Southampton on their way. Back-to-back promotions followed Saints were a Premier League side by August 2012.
However, it all stemmed from that first domestic silverware since 1976 – and the first trophy the former Liverpool man got his hands on.
“When people ask me what silverware I won during my career, I’ll always mention it,” he said. “It’s a huge highlight in my career. Whilst I was at Southampton, it was the only silverware I won. A trophy is on offer, at the end of the day. People might talk it down and people might talk it up.
“It was just as big as the others throughout my career. It was a stage in my career where I hadn’t won anything, so it was my first piece of silverware.”
On the stroke of half-time, the then-21-year-old headed Alan Pardew’s side into a 2-0 break just before the whistle sounded.
It was a moment the former England international, who is now on the books of Brighton and Hove Albion, will never forget.
“I was only young at the time and it was in front of the fans, so it was very, very special for me,” he recalled. “I had my family here and everything.
“It was a great day out and experience. Southampton filled our allocation that day, so the atmosphere was amazing. I took the experience of winning that competition into the later stages of my career.”
It’s a feeling that either Rotherham United or Sutton United will bask in this weekend when the two teams go head-to-head for the Papa Johns Trophy. If Adam Lallana’s experience is anything to go by, victory could provide the springboard for even more success.