CUP hero Sanmi Odelusi admits he nearly gave up on his football dream after being rejected by QPR as a 15-year-old.

Two goals in Tuesday night’s 3-1 win over Shrewsbury Town on his full debut for the Whites elevated the development squad regular to first-team stardom.

But the young winger’s path to Dougie Freedman’s Capital One Cup line-up has proved anything but simple – taking him from Sunday League football to Slovakia, and Loftus Road to Leyland.

And Odelusi was quick to recognise the people who helped him along the way after announcing himself on to the grand stage in thrilling fashion at the Greenhous Meadow. “I’ve always had the passion for being a professional footballer,” said the London-born 20-year-old, who has been in the Wanderers ranks for the last four years. “I was always playing on my estate with the older lads but, to be fair, it was my parents who spurred me on to keep hungry because when I got released by QPR after a trial I wanted to quit – but they pushed me on.”

Odelusi was playing park football for Barkley in Essex when his talent was first spotted five years ago but he took some convincing to take up the game on a regular basis.

“To be honest, I didn’t really believe it,” he said. “The scout was saying he could take me here, or there, but my mum had to convince me to give it a go.

“Lucky enough he had the contacts at QPR, where I spent about six months, and then Reading, where I was for a few weeks.

“From there Bolton came down to look at me in London and I moved up here. I flew with them to Slovakia when I was 16 for two or three weeks and got my scholarship and then it was just a case of keeping my head down and working hard.”

Freedman’s arrival last October proved a turning point for Odelusi who, by the manager’s own admission, had been “drifting along” in the youth ranks to that point.

Development squad chief Jamie Fullarton quickly converted him from a central striker to a flying winger and within months, he had appeared on the first-team bench, making a debut against Charlton in March.

“When the gaffer first came in I was a number nine and they converted me to wide left, wide right,” he explained.

“I wasn’t happy at first but they know what’s better for me and they have brought me on a long way.

“For any young player it’s going to feel like a long wait but when you get the chance you have got to take it.

“Now all I want to do is keep my head down in training, keep working hard, stay humble and keep my focus.”

While Odelusi remains realistic about his chances of staying in the team to face Reading this weekend he has pledged to be ready if he gets the call from Freedman.

“Football moves quick – one week you can be starting for the first team but the next you can be with the reserves,” he said. “Wherever you do get your 70 or 90 minutes, you have to give it your all.”