From Carluke schoolboy to hitting the gym with Watford’s star striker Troy Deeney – it’s fair to say Tom Leighton’s life has been transformed over the past couple of years!
The 18-year-old, who also stars at international level for Northern Ireland under-19s, loves life in London with the Premier League side from Vicarage Road.
A source close to the centre back/right back told the Carluke and Lanark Gazette: “Tom is learning a lot at Watford, where he plays for their under-23 side.
“He looks up to Troy Deeney, takes the advice he gets from him and works on it.
“It’s Tom’s first professional year and he goes to the gym with Troy regularly.
“He is settled at Watford and will be looking to get another contract with them in January.”
Despite previously impressing during youth Scotland trials at Braidhurst High School in Motherwell, Tom never earned an international call-up for his country of birth.
So that was why he jumped at the chance to represent Northern Ireland under-19s – whom he qualifies for through his grandad.
Tom made his international debut in the Greens’ 4-1 friendly success over Slovakia under-19s in September.
Competitive action has followed in UEFA Under-19 Championship qualifiers, with a 0-0 draw against Poland and a 3-1 defeat to Serbia.
The latest NI under-19s outing for Tom came in a 3-2 home qualifying win against Kazakhstan on Tuesday which saw them miss out on qualification for next summer's finals in Armenia on goal difference behind group runners-up Poland.