Put simply, it was the greatest period of Ronnie Sanders' life.
But it also left him disillusioned: unable to accept the machinations at Bristol City Football Club, where he spent about 18 months trying to break into their EFL Championship team.
It was while holidaying in London in 2010 that the then 24-year-old met a man who worked in "scout management".
That led to a tryout with Bristol City and an offer for the central defender to stay.
He did not secure a contract - his time at the club marred by injuries, and his football opportunities limited to Bristol City's No 2 side.
The 35-year-old reflected on that "awesome" time in his life, when he also met his wife, Maria.
"I didn't go to the heights that I would have liked to," he said. "[But] it's probably still the best part of my life ... You live a lifestyle that is literally having parties and having fun."
But what goes up must come down.
"I sort of said in the end, 'I don't want to be in it [the club]. Like, if this is what it's gonna be like going forward, I don't want to be in it. We're here to have fun and enjoy it, but it's too hard.'"
It was an intense experience. "Eighteen months felt like two days," he said. "It was there, and then it was finished."
Sanders was born in Northern Ireland but grew up in Australia, living in Sydney and Brisbane. He moved to Tamworth last year.
The father of one works as a tree lopper and plays for fourth-placed Moore Creek, who travel to fifth-placed Gunnedah on Saturday. One point separates the sides, with three rounds remaining.