It is often said that young players need a stroke of luck to get their break in football, and former Wanderers goalkeeper Jake Turner certainly had a unique path into the game.

Turner joined the Whites’ youth ranks at the age of 14 and went on to spent time around the first team squad as understudy to Ben Alnwick and Mark Howard in the Championship.

He left the club in 2019 to join Newcastle and spent three years at St James’ Park before making the move to Gillingham, where he made 18 appearances last season.

But Turner’s dreams of forging a career in the professional game used to look very different. In fact, they didn’t involve wearing the gloves at all.

The 24-year-old, who was given the nickname ‘Large’ at Wanderers, grew up playing outfield but was later encouraged to give goalkeeping a try due to his size.

“In football it’s the people you know,” he told The Yours, Mine, Away! Podcast. “We are good family friends with the Meulensteens and obviously Rene at the time was the second-hand man to Fergie at United. His son was at United as well in the Academy.

“I spoke to him and he said to come in, not as a trial, but to see what goalkeeping is all about and if I fancy it.

“I went in for two weeks and threw myself around. I had never really played in net before so I was probably cr*p!”

He continued: “Our goalkeeper was on holiday for our Sunday league team and I wanted to started playing in net anyway. I think we were three or four down at half time and I broke my finger!

“My dad said to me walking to the car, ‘I hope your finger isn’t too bad because there was a Bolton scout there asking about the goalie’. They said to come in when it started feeling better.

The Bolton News: Turner was promoted to first-team understudy at WanderersTurner was promoted to first-team understudy at Wanderers (Image: PA)

“I was straight on trial at Bolton after one game in net, losing 4-0. But my height made me stand out from everyone else.”

Turner’s early Bolton days were a big adjustment but his hard work on the training pitch soon paid off.

“It was completely different to anything I knew,” the towering shot stopper added. “I didn’t really think I was going to become a goalkeeper.

“When I was seven I went on trial at Crewe as a centre-back, so it is mental how things happen and you get these different opportunities at different places.

“I was fixed on being a goalkeeper. I started working with Sam Meek there, he was a young goalkeeping coach at the time.

“He could see something in me, I don’t know what it was at the time! He told me all I needed was hard work and to tweak a few things because I had the raw qualities.

“He put all of his time into these hard drills. I remember doing these sessions and thinking, ‘What is this?’ but it is a completely different fitness to playing outfield so it was exactly what I needed.”

During his time at Wanderers, the goalkeeper also had loan spells at Stalybridge Celtic, Frickley Athletic and Darlington.

Turner’s Bolton exit came amid the club’s financial issues off the pitch, and he admits leaving wasn’t easy.

“With everything that was going on at Bolton, with the embargo and the money situation, they weren’t able to give out contracts at the time,” he explained.

“I had interest from a few other clubs and my agent said Newcastle were interested. As soon as you hear about a team that big, you can’t really say no to be fair. It was hard to leave because I loved my time at Bolton.”