He may be regarded as one of the top defenders in the Danske Bank Premiership, but Caolan Marron started his football life as a forward.
The Glentoran centre-back, who is from Newry, began playing for local club Midway as a boy and, while it was clear he had talent, his first foray into the Irish League didn’t work out as he had hoped.
Marron says: “When I was young, I played everywhere. I started as a striker and, as the years wore on, I worked my way back down the pitch.
“I played midfield in the Milk Cup for County Armagh and signed for Warrenpoint when I was 15 but didn’t play in the first team because at that time they were fighting to stay up and young players weren’t getting a chance.
“Although I liked the club, that was the reason I left. I lost a little bit of love for the game at that point so I went back to Midway and played under my dad and with my mates and started to enjoy football again.
“I was playing at centre-back and got selected for the Northern Ireland Schoolboys and things kicked on from there.
“I was coming 17 when I went to Glenavon and, while it was a big step up, it was one I was willing to take.
“When I signed, I was going there to play for the Under-19s but, after my second training session, I was called up to play for the reserves and lucky enough Gary Hamilton, the senior team manager, was there to watch and I had a good game. I was called up to the first team and made my debut before I turned 18.”
Everything happened quickly for Marron but, like the way he plays football, he took it in his stride.
“I try not to think about the size of games and like to get on with it which I think has helped me,” adds Marron, who is keen to emphasise how important family support is in his life.
“Being at Glenavon really pushed me on as I was playing first-team football from a young age which was a big benefit to me.
“Top young players like Rhys Marshall, Mark Sykes and James Singleton were there and we were a team full of energy willing to work for each other. There weren’t that many experienced players, though two that helped me were Simon Kelly and Kris Lindsay.”
Marron concludes: “When I heard Glentoran were interested, it was a big moment. ‘Windy’ (Paul) Millar was a factor in me going there.
“He had been at Glenavon and the two of us got on really well. I felt it was the right move for me at that time, though I’ll always appreciate what Glenavon did for me.”