The journey to manhood of Chapeltown resident Sanchez Payne will be screened on TV next month in a documentary which began 14 years ago.
The ‘7 Up’ series, on BBC One, follows the lives of a handful of people every seven years and viewers first met Sanchez as a cute seven-year-old, showcasing his impressive dance moves.
At the age of 14, cameras captured his life as a streetwise, football-loving young man who had just won a scholarship to the Leeds United’s academy.
Now, the next instalment - ‘21 Up’ - will update viewers on a more grown up Sanchez, who has mixed a promising football career with charity work, earning him a Leeds Black Award earlier this year.
Sanchez, who still lives with his mum, sister and brother at the Chapeltown house we saw him last, said he hopes his love for life comes across in the programme.
“I like to think that at seven I was really happy, at 14 I was the same and at 21 it’s still the same child in me. I hope it comes across that I’m very proud of where I’m from.
“I’m enjoying life in general - I’ve got a really good family background, a really good network of friends.”
His football career took off with a professional contract at Leeds Utd until he was 19, but after a brief spell at Doncaster Rovers, an injury temporarily halted his playing. It was during that four-month period that he learned to keep busy off the pitch - volunteering at a homeless shelter, feeding people on the streets at Christmas, as well as modelling for Leeds Fashion Show and even a stint at radio presenting.
He said: “My idea was that I had to make it as a footballer before I could give back to my community - that’s something I always wanted to do. But once I was injured I realised you don’t need resources to help out.”
Now he is juggling both sides of work, signing with Stockport County FC last season and currently waiting to sign for a new club for this season.
But he said he feels no pressure from having a documentary series screen his life.
“It’s not for me to try to prove anything. It’s my life and my own ambition, whether good or bad, out there for the world to see. It’s real. There are so many fake TV shows or reality TV shows but this documentary is real and shows the diversity of people’s lives.”
He added: “I can’t wait to see it. I’ll definitely have people round. We might go to my nana’s and make a proper day of it.”
l 21 Up New Generation starts on BBC One on Monday September 1, with Sanchez’s episode on Tuesday September 2.