Aaron Arnott admits he did a double-take as he battled former Scotland and Celtic captain Scott Brown for a high ball earlier this season.
But the Raith Rovers starlet has looked anything but overawed during a laudable breakthrough campaign.
Arnott, 18, has been considered one of the brightest prospects on the books in Kirkcaldy since penning his first contract in October 2020.
He made his senior debut against Brechin earlier this season, helping Rovers to a comprehensive 4-0 victory over the Highland League side.
Since then, Arnott has been utilised as a substitute against the likes of Livingston, Aberdeen and Celtic (twice) — and has never once looked out of place.
His burgeoning reputation will only grow following an impactful cameo against Kilmarnock on Wednesday evening, culminating in the midfielder bagging the decisive goal to send Raith into the SPFL Trust Trophy final.
TADHAL!! Tha @RaithRovers air thoiseach!
Raith have turned this game around! pic.twitter.com/E1EVjJ1vzS
— BBC ALBA (@bbcalba) March 2, 2022
“To have scored my first senior goal in a cup semi-final; to play at Celtic Park twice — it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” beamed Arnott.
“I’ll remember that moment [scoring against Kilmarnock] for a very long time. To score in front of the Raith fans just made it all the more special.
“I’m loving every opportunity I get.
“I’ve not been around the Raith Rovers team for that long. This time a couple of years ago I was just playing Fife academy football at under-18s. It’s gone so quickly.”
Asked if any aspect of his swift rise has been surreal, Arnott recalled his Premier Sports Cup last-16 outing against the Dons, when he helped the Kirkcaldy club claim a fine 2-1 triumph.
He laughed: “Coming on against Aberdeen, one of the first things I did was jump for a header. As I’m looking around, I realise I’m challenging Scott Brown. Just for a split-second, you do think: ‘This isn’t adding up!’
“[Playing at] Parkhead was just unreal as well.
“But you’ve always got a job to do. I’m training with the Raith Rovers first-team every day and I feel like I’m learning, improving and can be a part of things at that level.”
Indeed, there has a sense of inevitability about Arnott rise to first-team contention.
While coming through the ranks at the Fife Elite Football Academy, he trained with Dunfermline before ultimately choosing to join Raith.
His potential was clear.
“When I knew Raith wanted me to come in, I was buzzing,” continued Arnott.
“I was training with Dunfermline but it was around the time that Kieron Bowie had gone to Fulham and Dylan Tait was getting a chance.
“That’s a brilliant example of how, if you are doing the business in training, the gaffer [John McGlynn] will give young boys an opportunity.”
Arnott also heaped praise on Ross Matthews, who bagged the equaliser at Rugby Park in midweek and provides a constant source of guidance and inspiration.
“Ross Matthews sticks out for me as someone I can look up to,” added Arnott.
“He’s the same position, does everything right and he’s a brilliant professional.
“Ross maybe doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He does so much for the team that people don’t see. He might not always get the headlines — but he deserved them after Wednesday night!”