At the conclusion of his first season with Wigan, ex-Liverpool youngster Abdi Sharif made history as the first Somali player in the Championship.
Sharif had been without a club for over a year before he signed with Wigan, with a successful trial landing the midfielder a two-year deal at the DW in July.
Much of this campaign has been spent in the under-21s, though a brief loan spell at Telford United gave the 22-year-old his first taste of senior football.
With Wigan’s relegation to League One confirmed at the end of April – and concerns ongoing over their failure to pay wages – uncertain preparations have begun for a new campaign in the third tier.
That has seen manager Shaun Maloney integrate a number of young players who could see increased minutes next season – including Sharif.
An unused substitute in a 1-0 win at Stoke in mid-April, Sharif then came off the bench on the final day of the Championship as Wigan drew 0-0 with Rotherham on Monday.
In doing so, he became the first Somali player to ever feature in the Championship.
Sharif and his family emigrated from Somalia when he was young, and after training with Liverpool from the age of six he joined the club as an under-9s player.
He progressed through the academy ranks, including time as part of Steven Gerrard’s under-18s squad, but was released in 2021 without breaking into the senior setup.
After time spent unattached and working on his fitness, Sharif is now making headway at first-team level, as well as making history.
Wigan will see the majority of their senior contracts expire at the end of the season, with regular starters Max Power, James McClean, Will Keane, Tendayi Darikwa, Ben Amos, Ryan Nyambe and Curtis Tilt among those due to depart.
That leaves only 10 of the current senior squad tied to the club, and amid their financial troubles it is likely that Maloney is left to build around a youthful group.
Sharif, who was hailed by Gerrard as a player who “can hit big numbers” in an interview in 2018, could look to establish himself within that core.
Still in contact with Liverpool as part of academy director Alex Inglethorpe’s Alumni Project, Sharif will no doubt be in line for congratulations from his boyhood club.