Australian Shane Cansdell-Sherriff is eyeing a Championship debut next season as Burton Albion look to cement back-to-back promotions.
While Leicester City are taking the plaudits in the English Premier League, the plucky Brewers are closing to securing their second promotion in just two years.
Burton Albion are in second place in League One on 84 points with one game left in the season against relegation-facing Doncaster.
Walsall are in third place on 81 points, but also crucially with a goal difference of three less than Burton.
Playing in the Championship will be a remarkable feat for a club that has never competed in that division and was featuring in non-League football six years ago.
“To win the league last year and to come into League One for the first in the club’s history and to go up this year is fantastic,” Cansdell-Sherriff told FourFourTwo.
“They’re a great bunch of lads in the team. The atmosphere and the environment around the place is really good, it’s great to be here.”
They’re a great bunch of lads in the team.
The veteran Australian defender has been with the club for the past three years and has been key contributor in its rise.
“My first year we made the playoff final in League Two, which is a great achievement,” Cansdell-Sherriff said.
“We unfortunately lost that final and then the following year we won the league outright. We’ve continued this year, we’ve continued that dominance.
“A lot of people thought we would have struggled, be fighting relegation or to be just above the relegation zone would have been a great achievement.
“But we’ve spent four months on top of the league this year and it’s only been in recent weeks that we’ve dropped to second.
“We’ve only got one game to go and we’re in a great position for promotion again.”
The likes of Bournemouth and Southampton have pulled off consecutive promotions in recent seasons to go from League One into the Premier League.
“We’re a small club,” Cansdell-Sherriff said.
“Bournemouth is a bit bigger than us but it helps if you have that financial support and if you get the right players.
“We’re a smaller club so it makes it a bit tougher. The bunch of lads in the team we’ve got have just gelled together really, really well.
“We’ve got one of the best defensive records in the past two seasons, best points-per-game ratio across all the leagues. We’ve certainly achieved a lot at this small club and continued to surprise people.”
For Cansdell-Sherriff it has been a great ride in the twilight of his career, 15 years after he joined Leeds United as a teenager. The Sydneysider spent four years at Elland Road, and saw the collapse of Leeds first-hand, and then had three seasons playing in Denmark.
The defender returned to the UK in 2006 with Tranmere and has then had spells with Shrewsbury Town, Preston North End and Rochdale. Cansdell-Sherriff joined Burton on loan in September 2013 and then signed permanently with the club in 2014.
The 33-year old, who has represented Australia at Under-17 and Under-23 level, has made 30 appearances this season at left back and centre back.
“I’m the oldest player in the team at the moment,” he said.
“I’ve played a role in providing experience and support to the younger players. I’ve certainly been there and fought relegation, fought for promotion and things like that. It helps.”
Burton have also survived the departure of manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who got the club promoted into League One, in December to QPR. Former Brewers boss Nigel Clough took the reins and has kept Burton in the top echelon of the division.
“Sometimes they (managerial changes) can be good and bad things,” Cansdell-Sherriff explains.
“In this situation I think it’s been good, the core players have stayed and we’ve continued the way we started. A lot of players in the team now were there from when Gary Rowett was there.
“We’ve just continued and gotten stronger and stronger. We know each other, we know how we’re playing and we just keep working hard.”
Cansdell-Sherriff is off-contract at the end of this season and is yet to have his future settled. The centre back would love to play in the Championship but also has a desire to eventually finish his career in Australia.
“I look forward to the Championship,” he said.
I’d like to finish my career back home
“(But) I’m out of contract at the moment, my future’s unsettled at the moment. I’m not sure if I’m staying a little bit longer or I might be returning to Australia. We’ll see what happens in the coming months.
"I’d like to finish my career back home, I think I’ve got a few good years in me yet. I’ve got the experience of playing in Europe for such a long time and I’d like to bring that back to Australia and add that to the boys back home.
“I’ve worked with some fantastic managers over the years like Nigel Clough Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Terry Venables. I’d like to go home and play and finish up in front of my family. But we’ll see, we’ll what happens.
“The chance to play Championship football is pretty exciting too.”
Cansdell-Sherriff said he has been keeping an eye on the A-League in recent seasons.
“It’s great, it seems like it’s really going forward,” he said.
“It’s great for Australia. The crowds, the support they’re getting in Australia is just fantastic. I didn’t think we’d ever seen it so they’re doing a fantastic job with the league and it will go from strength to strength.”