HE has been labelled the £60million man since firing Burnley into the Premier League, but Wade Elliott is taking it all in his silky stride.

After all, it’s hard to get carried away with being a promotion hero when your own team-mates start the party without you.

“I missed the bus,” said the 30-year-old, who despite securing the Clarets’ ticket to the top flight, couldn’t even buy himself a ticket for the tube an hour afterwards.

“I’d already put my gear on to the bus so I had nothing on me and had to borrow £10 off one of the guys in the press box.

“I came back out of the ground and was walking to Wembley Park when I saw Mitch (physio Andy Mitchell) and Steve Caldwell and they’d missed the bus as well.

“The families were on a separate bus so we ended up on there, driving out of Wembley on that, and then we saw the team bus in traffic just further along the road. That looked like it was bouncing, so we got straight off the family bus and jumped on that.

“That was really the first time I’d seen all the lads and had a bit of a sing-song and a jump about because I’d been off doing all manner of media stuff so I’d missed a lot of the celebrations in the dressing room.

“I don’t know if it was starting to sink in then really or not. I think it took a little while longer.

“But it was just a sense of content-edness at a job well done.

“It took us ages to get back to the hotel where all our families and friends were.

“They’d been waiting for me for a couple of hours and when I walked in you could see how happy and how proud they were. That was one of the best moments for me of the day, just seeing all them.”

Elliott’s ultimate high had been more than a decade in the making, the route unconventional, but there is no doubt his career has, so far, been so fulfilling.

Posed with a choice of staying with Southampton after turning 16, Elliott took a brave decision to walk away from his boyhood club to dovetail a football and academic education.

Non-league Bashley might seem an unambitious choice for an aspiring footballer, especially when you consider he was leaving a Premier League club at the time, but playing in the Southern Division provided the best of both worlds for the conscientious young winger.

While achieving A-level grade A’s in media and geography and a C in art, Elliott was thriving in Bashley’s youth system. Then, at the age of 18, new manager Jimmy Case fed him into the first team.

“It was brilliant for me really; I was sort of the baby of the group with a really good bunch of lads,” he recalled. “Because of the way I played, I was always quite nippy and liked taking people on, I was playing against men who had been round the block a bit and probably wouldn’t take too kindly to a 17-18 year-old doing stuff like that against them and would want to give me a bit of a leathering. We had a few lads who could look after themselves and as soon as anyone tried to kick me they’d get one back from one of our lads, and that would have been it for the next couple of minutes.”

His education both on and off the field was ongoing.

“By the time I’d signed for Bournemouth I’d had two years of playing men’s football. It might not have been Football League standard but it was against some good footballers and it hardened me up a bit,” said Elliott.

“I went in with some lads who were ahead of me in some aspects because they’d had two years in a YTS and everything that comes with that; they know their way around the club and they benefit technically from training every day, but in match terms I was used to playing 60 games a season and I’d learned how to look after myself in men’s football.”

By the time the Cherries registered their interest, Elliott was halfway through the second year of a degree in communications and sociology, having enrolled at the University of London’s Goldsmith’s College on leaving college. He deferred the last year of his course after being offered a one-year deal, and even when that was extended to three he still completed it, earning a 2:1, through the Open University.

The only career he had ever wanted was being forged, and unlike so many of his peers he was able to experience life, to the full, in the process.

“I made some great mates at college who I’m still in touch with now, and a lot of them were at Wembley for the game, and I was able to go off and do stuff that maybe you don’t do,” he said.

“I suppose when you’re a footballer from 16 as a YTS until you retire everything is football, football, football, and I was able to step outside of that for a year or two. I was still pretty conscientious in terms of the way I went about approaching games and what not, but I was able to do different things, like going skiing. I saved up one year and went with the college.

“You speak to most professional footballers and that’s the first thing they want to do when they’ve finished playing.

“So I look on it that I was fortunate with the way I came into the game. It might have cost me a couple of years as a pro but I think I gained in lots of other aspects.

“If I was at uni I could go to the student union, or I could pop off and do this, that or the other. Since I’ve come into football I’ve never had to scratch that itch; I’ve never had the sense that there’s something I’m missing out on.

“I was fortunate to be able to see that and make my choice. I know how fortunate I am to be doing what I’m doing, and in a way there’s plenty of time afterwards to go skiing or do whatever else I’d want to do.”

But, for now, playing in the Premier League takes precedence, and running out at Anfield over four years after he thought he’d get a chance in the FA Cup with Bournemouth.

Djimi Traore’s own goal put the kibosh on that, but a meeting with the Clarets instead ultimately led to Elliott moving to Burnley, and as he readily admits: “It’s turned out in the best possible way.”