WHEN football fans commandeer a player as “one of their own” the link can be somewhat tenuous.

Some young footballers can come all the way through the system without having deep-rooted emotional ties with the football club who employ them. And in the footballing hotbed of the North West, heads can easily be turned by the successes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool et al.

Others, like Adam Senior, have lived and breathed Bolton Wanderers for as long as he can remember.

On Tuesday night the 17-year-old defender was asked by Keith Hill where the away fans would be situated at the Memorial Stadium. He pointed to the corner of the pitch, having watched from that exact same vantage point three years ago as goals from Josh Vela and Jay Spearing secured three points.

Senior travelled the country watching his club – at least until playing for them got in the way.

Now, the former St Joseph’s High pupil intends to make the most of an opportunity he is still trying to wrap his head around.

“Just to pull on a Bolton shirt is a dream come true,” he told The Bolton News. “I have honestly been dreaming about playing for the first team since I was five years old, a long, long time.

“I got taken to my first game when I was two and signed when I was five but the first match I honestly remember is Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Cup.

“Before I started as an apprentice I used to go home and away. Then we started playing Saturdays so I could only guarantee going to home games.

“It’s my club. Not a lot of people get this type of chance.”

The Bolton News:

It was ironically at Wanderers’ lowest ebb that lifelong fan Senior got his opportunity – a four-minute cameo in a 5-0 defeat at Gillingham in August.

He had been a substitute in the young team pushed on to the pitch at the start of the season, dubbed the Junior Whites, yet since Keith Hill’s arrival and the club’s takeover he has made a strong case for inclusion and earned a first league start against Rochdale last weekend.

For a fan, the task of juggling playing duties with concern for the future of the club represented a challenge for the teenager when he reported back to Lostock in the summer.

“It was crazy,” he said. “When we came back for pre-season there were six players.

“I suppose that gave us (the younger players) the opportunity and so we worked hard and tried to kick on.

“I didn’t play at the start of the season, I was on the bench every week watching my mates, but since the new manager came in he’s been brilliant. He’s put trust in me, gave me a bit of praise, and that makes me want to work as hard as I possibly can for him.

“He has shown in the past that he will give opportunities to young players. I look at Luke Mattheson at Rochdale, he gave him his debut, so I just have to keep going.”

Of all the players Senior watched from the terraces, he picks out another academy graduate as the one who he would most like to emulate in a Bolton shirt.

“It’s hard to pick one out but I think Josh Vela,” he said. “He’s been in the same shoes as I am, coming through from a young age, Rob Holding was the same.

“The club is working hard to produce players. Luca Connell came through last season and we all look at what he did and want to repeat it.”

The Bolton News:

It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Senior, however, and there was a small measure of heartache in his first-ever Bolton start – a Leasing.com Trophy match against Bradford City, shortly after Hill appointment.

After the scores finished 1-1 at full time, the defender was confident his preparations for a penalty shootout were enough to step forward to take one of the spot kicks.

“I’d been working on them all pre-season with Matt Alexander, trying different techniques,” he said. “I started doing the one where I turned my back to the keeper, which Paul Gallagher does at Preston North End, and Matt reckoned it was harder for the keeper to read which way I was going to go.

“I tried it and missed. The next day Matt was like ‘I didn’t think you’d actually do it!’ “But I’d do it again. I’d take one tomorrow if someone would let me.”

Senior’s miss was exacerbated by the unnecessary reaction of Bradford’s Jermaine Anderson.

“I saw him coming over and he said something but because of the fans I couldn’t really hear it,” he said. “It was probably something about missing the penalty.

“He pushed me but I’m not bothered. I get asked that question all the time – ‘what did he say?’ But I honestly couldn’t hear it.”

Senior has had other things on his mind, anyhow, like passing his driving test.

Flying through with just five minors, the Bolton defender now wants his football career to shift up a gear.

“I want to kick on,” he said. “It has been mad how fast everything has happened but I know if I work hard I will give myself a chance. Just to be in this situation is brilliant but I don’t want to settle. I want to play for Bolton Wanderers.”