“The summer break was the test for me. It was about how fit did I want to come back? How much did I want it?”
In late April Christian Saydee was a hero for the under-21s, netting in the Central League Cup final win over Carlisle United at St George’s Park.
But it was not the time for the striker to bask in the success.
Returning home to West Drayton in London, the teenager had the summer ahead of him and the help of brother Terrance to propel him towards his first-team ambitions.
A gruelling personal training schedule and a sharpened attention to his diet followed.
Weeks later and Saydee returned to Dorset for pre-season eight kilograms leaner and more focused than ever.
He told afcb.co.uk how it happened: “I had my brother pushing me, saying it could be a big season for me and telling me I knew what I had to do.
“The last six months has been crazy with the ups and the downs. The test for me was over the summer break, it was about how fit did I want to come back? How much did I want it?
“It was about doing the runs and the training that I needed to do and working really really hard.
“My brother was hard on me every day, telling me that I couldn’t eat this, I couldn’t do that – but that’s what big brothers are for.”
As well as Terrance, a year and a half older and on the books with Reading until the age of 18, the younger Saydee was being pushed along by local footballers, including two neighbours also making waves with the Cherries early in the new season.
He explained: “The area I come from there are quite a lot of footballers around, Zeno (Ibsen Rossi) used to come round, I had Nathan (Moriah-Welsh) with me and loads of other boys from clubs like Brighton and different places – we all had the same mindset where we wanted to work hard.
“Zeno looked after me. Since I signed for Bournemouth he got close to me after finding out we’re from the same area, he’s always pushed me to do better.
“This summer in particular, since he came back from Scotland, he’s been driving me every day. He’d call me, message me, tell me to make sure I did my runs before we’d play five-a-side at Goals.
“He’s played a big part for me.”
The runs, dedication and improved nutrition has borne near-immediate fruit, the striker’s ability and intensity in pre-season noted by incoming head coach Scott Parker and rewarded with a break into the action with the first team.
His chance – and a Cherries senior debut - came in the Carabao Cup against MK Dons with 14 minutes remianing.
Four minutes later Saydee scored his first professional goal.
Three minutes after that he laid on an assist for David Brooks.
“I feel like the emotion I had in that celebration showed how much I’ve been through, how much I wanted it and that I wanted to prove a point and stay around here to do it,” he said.
“I still watch the goal sometimes. This weekend I was flicking through on Twitter and you had Jaidon’s goal come up – I’m so proud of him after he’s worked so hard for so long – and then my goal started showing and I carried on watching it.
“It was so good. For the game my brother came down, my mum, my dad, my uncle and then my cousin was here as well. The whole family here to see it!”
Two further substitute appearances have now followed in the Championship as the young player continues to prove his worth.
But after a breathless six months, Saydee knows as well as anyone that now’s not the time to rest: forward propulsion and continued readiness remain key to further inroads as a professional.
His next opportunity could come at Carrow Road back in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening.
“I feel like for every game I just have to be ready because you never know when the gaffer or Matt Wells could call you and tell you it’s your turn to come on,” he said.
“You just have to be ready, analysing the players on the pitch that you could be coming up against. You have to be switched on, warm at all times.
“In every game, I feel that if I’m on the bench I’m learning and then I learn every time I come on as well – I learn either way and that’s what I’ve got to do to keep going further.”