Swansea’s Bersant Celina faces an FA Cup reunion with Manchester City desperate to shine against his former club.
Celina spent six years at City from the age of 16 and made four first-team appearances there in 2016.
But the Kosovo international never played for Pep Guardiola and had loan spells in Holland and England before joining Swansea in a £3million deal last summer.
“I want to go and prove to them that I’m very good,” Celina said ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final tie against the Premier League champions at the Liberty Stadium.
“When I look back on my time at Man City I remind myself I was training with top players and I know what to do to get to that level.
“I managed to get through at one point when I was much younger. That is the level I want to be at.
“It was incredible rubbing shoulders with players with that amount of talent.
“That gives me motivation to get to the place where I feel I should be.”
Celina’s extraordinary journey began when his family fled war-torn Kosovo when he was just two years of age.
He was raised in Norway and started his youth career at Stromsgodset before City offered him a scholarship in 2012.
Three of his four City appearances came in the FA Cup, although his final game against Chelsea was to prove an unhappy experience.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini played a novice team just three days before a Champions League tie at Dynamo Kiev, and Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa were part of a Chelsea side that ran out easy 5-1 winners.
“That last game with Man City was a tough one,” said Celina, who was later loaned out to FC Twente and Ipswich.
“It was a strong Chelsea team and we had a lot of young players in the side because we had a lot of games and a number of injuries.
“But it is always fun playing in the Cup because you never know what is going to happen.
“The FA Cup is a bit of a showcase for not only me, but everyone else. That is how they should think.
“None of the young players are dreaming about playing in the Championship for the rest of their lives.
“Everyone, especially me, wants to play in the Premier League.”
Celina has been a cornerstone of Graham Potter’s exciting Swansea side, which is the youngest in the Championship.
The 22-year-old has scored seven goals and might have had an eighth but for slipping while taking a penalty in the 3-0 defeat at West Brom on Wednesday.
“Swansea has been very positive for me, it is a beautiful club and we want to play good football,” he said.
“I always wanted to play just the way we are playing now. That was the most important thing for me.
“We have good players in the team and, although we know Man City is a great team, we want to go and beat them.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.