ANTONI SARCEVIC insists that he owes Chester - and the phoenix club’s most successful ever manager Neil Young - everything for sparking life into his career.

Sarcevic looked on course for a successful career in the game having joined Manchester City’s academy set-up at just seven years of age.

But the playmaker opted to leave at 16, instead starring at Woodley Sports before he was snapped up by Crewe Alex, who gave him a taste of life in the Football League.

History repeated itself as Sarcevic made it clear that he wanted out at Crewe after a loan spell at the Deva Stadium and with the promise of regular first-team football at Gresty Road failing to materialise.

Talking to The Honest Football podcast, Sarcevic, now working under former Chester City striker Ryan Lowe at Plymouth, talked about his formative years, starting with how he left Manchester City

“I got to 16 and sort of lost everything,” said Sarcevic. “I was coming home from training crying, I was getting in the car with my mum and dad and saying I didn’t want to do it, I wasn’t getting picked for matches.

“I’d go to school and all of my mates would be playing for the same team and talking about it all week and I was the odd one out.

“I told my mum and dad I’d had enough, they pulled me out at 15.”

The teenage Sarcevic was soon making an impact for Woodley Sports after grabbing a chance presented to him by a team-mate’s late return from a holiday in Ibiza.

And the midfielder was left with a choice of a second trial at Blackburn Rovers after an initial four-to-six week spell at Ewood Park, or signing for Crewe.

“I had to make a big decision to make,” said Sarcevic, who opted for Crewe, although he was quickly shipped out on-loan to Young’s rising Blues. “They said Chester want you to go, the manager’s contacted me and said he knew me from my Woodley days.

“They were up and coming at the time and I thought I’d like that because it’s a nice club.

“I was meant to go until January, but Dario pulled me back ‘you’ve done really well, we’re happy with your progress and we want you to be part of the squad’.

“I thought ‘brilliant, this is it’. He put me in the squads, I was on the bench and got on in a few games, I scored away at Northampton and was doing really well. He said ‘you’re ready for your chance’ but he didn’t start me, which he said he would and it got to me a bit.”

So Sarcevic told Gradi and Crewe he wanted to leave, Chester completing a permanent deal.

“I was made up because I really enjoyed my loan there,” said Sarcevic. “I felt comfortable.

“We were winning, the lads were great, I was 20 and had a part-time job, and loving it. It was fun.

“We got promoted and we went again and got promoted again. That was the year I really excelled, I won all of the awards for Chester and for the league.

“From that season, I can’t owe Chester enough because that’s what really catapulted the start of my professional career.

“I owe Neil and that club so much. Without them, who knows where I’d have been.”

Such was Sarcevic’s form for the upwardly mobile Blues that an England C call-up for a summer trip to Bermuda was next on the agenda, the then 21-year-old scoring in a 6-1 success.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “I think the way we got treated is the way the national team get treated, that’s how good it was. I got picked up from my door, taken to Gatwick, we were greeted with all our England stuff and it was the best thing - until later on in my career - that I’d ever taken part in.”

Sarcevic’s whirlwind month was complete when a move to League Two Fleetwood Town happened.

“It was the best four weeks of my life,” he said. “We’d finished the season, I picked up player of the year for the league and Chester, it was unbelievable. We went on holiday and when we touched down and got off the plane my phone was going mental and it was then I got picked for England C.

“We enjoyed the week, came back and went to Bermuda with England. I came back from Bermuda and literally two days later my agent called me and said ‘Fleetwood have agreed a fee with Chester’. That was the first I’d heard of anything. It was the first club - I couldn’t even tell you if there was more interest.

“All I was thinking was ‘wow, I’m in the Football League and I’m going to take advantage of this and make the most of it’.”

Sarcevic was soon scoring the winner in Fleetwood’s 2014 play-off final success over Burton Albion, although a more disciplined midfield role soon took the shine off his time at Highbury Stadium.

At the end of his contract Sarcevic headed for Shrewsbury, a 12-game spell he summed up with “I shouldn’t have ever signed”, before uprooted his young family to sign for Plymouth.

“When I left Shrewsbury I was probably a day away from calling it a day with football,” conceded Sarcevic, who, with the support of his partner, headed for Home Park.

Plymouth won promotion to League One last week and the out-of-contract Sarcevic, named the club’s player of the year, has been offered a new deal by boss Lowe.

“It’s going to take a bit of time, but I will think hard and focus on what’s right for me and my family,” added Sarcevic, who Lowe is confident of keeping.

Boss Lowe said: “What I can say to the fans is look at what Sarce does, what he says and how he goes about his business. He has loved it here, he has loved the fans here.”