IT’S April 28, 2012. And 12-year-old Luke Haines takes his seat in the Arkell’s Stand ahead of Swindon Town’s final home fixture of their 2011-12 League Two campaign.

Victory would see Paolo Di Canio’s Town lift the League Two title, having already secured promotion back into the third tier at the first time of asking following relegation 12 months earlier.

Inspired by the 12,659 home supporters on that day seven years ago, Town routed opponents Port Vale 5-0 – sparking scenes of joy and jubilation as the club spring boarded back into League One.

Unknown to the supporters around him, that day – incredibly – only marked the half-way stage of Haines’ development in the club’s academy.

After joining as a six-year-old, the robust and versatile central defender signed his first Town contract aged eight. Fast forward a decade, and Haines had just achieved every boy’s dream by putting pen to paper on his first professional deal.

He remembers passing through the County Ground turnstiles every weekend as a kid, but could he have ever predicted his involvement in the first team as a full-time professional? Probably not.

“When we defeated Port Vale 5-0, I knew football was what I wanted to do,” said Haines.

“At the time, the thought of becoming a professional in football was so far away though.

“When I was in the academy, I knew I had a good chance to go all the way through.

“I hoped – and still do – that one day I can be involved in a game like that and lift a trophy with the team.”

He remembers Billy Paynter best, Town’s proven goalscorer that could find the back of the net for fun on his day.

And despite his primary role as a central defender, Haines possesses a clear ability when hunting for that sweet strike in the penalty area.

You only have to ask Town’s U18s manager David Farrell about the teenager’s hunger, desire and passion to win a game to understand this Swindon lad’s determination to succeed.

And playing in front of his family and friends is a key motivator in his mission to achieve his next goal – earning another contract at the end of the season.

He added: “It was relieving to earn a contract (at the end of last season) given how hard I have worked in the 12 years that I have been here.

“Those 12 years led towards one decision. It was a big weight off of my shoulders, but now is the time to keep working and try to earn another deal next year.

“I’ll have a chance in pre-season to show the manager that I am capable of playing in a first team environment.

“But my end goal is to earn another contract at the end of the season to take me into next year. I’ll work hard and do my best to prove to Richie (Wellens) that I can do that.

“I’d be open to a loan move, I just want as much men’s football as possible. Richie will always want to do his best.

“If I’m not quite up to that yet, then I will go on loan to get men’s football in – I’m happy to do that.”