Jamie McCart shared a flat with Shaun Rooney in the Highlands when life took the man of the moment down a traumatic path.
And now he’s shared the Hampden Park pitch with him when the pair of them have achieved unthinkable football glories.
To have been a St Johnstone match winner in one cup final is the stuff of legend.
Quite how you are supposed to categorise being a St Johnstone match winner in two of them within the space of a few months, goodness only knows.
The pals can take their time to come up with an appropriate term, if indeed there is one.
Providing from-the-heart reflections on an incredible sporting story for the player whose headed goals have put the Scottish Cup next to the Betfred Cup at McDiarmid Park will have to do for the moment.
Just a reminder, this DID happen… https://t.co/PjPSIrt75t
— St. Johnstone FC (@StJohnstone) May 22, 2021
“What a guy,” said McCart, who first teamed up with Rooney at Inverness Caley Thistle.
“What can you say? I was with him during the hard time of his life when he lost his mother and his grandfather.
“To see him come through that to get where he is now is just amazing. You cannot put it into words.
“It was a real hard time for him. I lived with him during that period.
“He came back up a few days after and it was like nothing had happened. He was just focused on playing football again.
“I am so fortunate to have him as a friend.
“That’s what he is first and foremost but I am also delighted he’s my team-mate. He’s an amazing guy and he deserves this.
“And I always knew what an impact he could have for us. I always knew he was ready for it.
“He deserves all the plaudits that come his way because he has worked so hard for it and he has been through so much.”
McCart’s own family story isn’t exactly run-of-the-mill either.
Last week was the 30th anniversary of the Motherwell v Dundee United ‘Family Final’ when his father, Chris, won the Scottish Cup with the Fir Park Club.
“It’s 30 years on, (almost) exactly,” said Jamie. “It’s ridiculous how it has happened like this. I managed to FaceTime my dad on the park after the game so that was good.
“I don’t believe in all that stuff when people say it’s written in the stars or whatever.
“I’m not in any way superstitious. The boys will tell you I don’t do anything like that.
“But it’s been a fairy tale season and to win the Scottish Cup exactly 30 years after my dad did it is just amazing.
“I honestly can’t put this into words. It’s just incredible.
“All the boys were saying afterwards in the dressing room that it probably won’t sink in for years.
“We’ve put out the Invincibles team in Rangers and we have beaten a very good Hibs side in the final.
“It’s just incredible. I know I keep using that word but it’s just how I feel right now.”
McCart produced a near flawless performance on Saturday.
Again – as in the Betfred Cup final – he was part of a defensive brick wall their opponents were unable to penetrate.
Time and time again headers, tackles and blocks were made when they needed to be.
Has there ever been a more effective young, Scottish back three than McCart, Jason Kerr and Liam Gordon?
Take your time. But good luck coming up with a comparable one.
“We were pretty comfortable, but you always have to be aware because they have really good players, their front three especially,” said the former Celtic youth player.
“They’ve got quality all over the park and some of the best strikers in the country.
“So I think that’s a huge credit to our team the way we handled it. Even after we missed the penalty we just regrouped and settled again.
“You have to give us credit for how we’ve played. I wouldn’t say we were comfortable throughout but to play that well in a game this big was amazing.”
That Saints maintained their defensive cohesion despite barely having a full training session for a fortnight speaks to the hard work that was put in over the early months of the season.
Habits, systems and individual requirements are ingrained.
“I think we showed real focus,” said McCart.
“We’d managed to train as a team once in seven days after the Covid outbreak so it’s incredible we have managed to maintain our levels.
“We were down to the bare bones going to Parkhead recently but all the boys who have come in have played their part this season.
“It has been a real squad effort and I think it’s important to remember that.
Our gaffer.. 💙 pic.twitter.com/HWeftdpvEL
— Stevie may (@Stevie__may) May 22, 2021
Emerging from the dressing room with the mixed beer and champagne aroma of winners on your kit is no time for a footballer to find perspective on what he just been part of or earmark new goals to strive for.
But McCart had a go.
“I don’t think it will really sink in for quite some time,” he said.
“I will enjoy this with the boys and then with my family.
“These are special times.
“And, of course, we go again next season. A few boys joked that retirement comes next because it doesn’t get any better than this.
“We believe we can still go again next season and that will be the aim. Next season, we might not win the double but we have European football and we have to be looking at the top six.
“We want to kick on, of that there is no doubt.”