Villa Ladies player preview: Cusack starring at second time of asking
Maddie Cusack was absolutely gutted when Villa Ladies elected not to sign her two seasons ago - but the knockback didn't deter her as she came charging back to get the claret and blue call this term.
Manager Joe Hunt admits it was one of his biggest mistakes to date when he decided to pass up the opportunity to take on Cusack in the girls centre of excellence.
He already had six midfielders on his books and thought Cusack would not greatly improve the options in the centre ground.
Abbeyleigh Stringer was the standout star in that U17 team and one of the main reasons why Cusack missed out.
The irony is that Cusack and Stringer could well partner each other this weekend at the home of champions Sunderland.
Cusack said: "I was obviously upset when Villa didn't sign me but it just made me more determined to eventually catch Joe's eye.
"I asked if I could trial for the senior team this term and Joe took me on. That was amazing news. I was thrilled.
"It's fantastic to be at Villa Ladies this season. What an experience! I was previously with Leicester Ladies and if I'd been playing with them still, I'd have been playing in the division below.
"So this is a big step-up for me but one I am really relishing.
"It's really great. I am really enjoying it. Playing at this level is fantastic at my age."
Cusack, 17, admits she's been delighted with boss Hunt's faith in Villa's young guns so far this term.
She continued: "I didn't think I would get much playing time if I'm being brutally honest.
"Joe has brought through a lot of young girls from the centre of excellence and I'm obviously in that age category too. I didn't think we'd get that much playing time.
"But I've been delighted with how much Joe trusts us to perform at this level. It's refreshing. I have had plenty of action and it's been brilliant.
"I've played in a few positions already. I'm a central midfielder but I played right-back on Sunday against Charlton. I'll play anywhere. It's the taking part and being in the team that counts.
"I see a lot of first team men players say that it's about being involved and that's so true. It's about getting in and doing everything you can for the team, wherever you play."
Villa Ladies take on Sunderland Ladies on Sunday, the champions already thumping home fifteen goals in three victories.
Sunderland Ladies reputation doesn't faze Cusack, however.
She added: "We obviously lost the first two games but we came back strong against Derby and Charlton. It could have been even more goals against Charlton.
"It was important in my opinion to get the win just before Sunderland to boost the confidence levels.
"There's no reason we can't go up to Sunderland and get a result. That's what football is about. We're not there to roll over. We want to win."