King's Lynn footballer reveals how he prepared to mark Manchester City superstar in Cheltenham FA Cup defeat
Lewis Freestone described it as the biggest night of his young footballing career and revealed how he prepared to mark one of the best footballers in the world.
Freestone, 21, was part of the Robins' team to push Premiership giants Manchester City all the way during a 3-1 defeat in the fourth round tie at the Jonny Rocks Stadium at the weekend.
The King's Lynn footballer binged on YouTube clips of playmaker Riyad Mahrez knowing that he had the responsibility of marking the Algerian on Saturday evening.
And the left-sided defender's homework almost paid off as the Robins came within a few minutes of causing an almighty shock.
"I was watching clips of him on YouTube on Friday night once I knew that I was playing," he admitted.
"I kind of knew that he likes bringing the ball back on his left peg so it was about trying to get as close to him as possible.
"There was no way I was fazed about facing him, I just saw it as a big challenge and one where I wanted to prove myself. You can't let playing a big name like that overwhelm you."
The defender had the unenviable task of keeping tabs on Mahrez on his young shoulders, but acquitted himself brilliantly throughout the 90 minutes.
Cheltenham took a surprise lead 14 minutes into the second half when Alfie May pounced in the Manchester City box.
The Gloucestershire outfits advantage lasted 22 minutes, but three late goals ended up breaking their hearts.
"At one point in the game I really believed that we could go on and win the tie," said Freestone.
"We kept our shape well and we've got some really good players, so when we did turn the ball over I thought we did alright.
"Manchester City seem to do that to teams week-in and week-out so we've got nothing to be ashamed off.
"I'm going to remember that night for the rest of my life."
It hadn't all been plain-sailing for the youngster in the build-up to his side's big tie with a toe injury threatening to ruin his big day.
"I missed the Newport game on the Tuesday night with an infected big toe and it was pretty sore for most of the week," said Freestone, who had been on antibiotics for the problem.
"I had it in hot, salty water for most of the week and it was touch-and-go whether I was going to be fit enough for selection.
"In the end I put a slit in my boot to take some of the pressure away from my toe.
"It wasn't until the Friday that I was actually able to train and even then there was no guarantee that I was going to be in the squad.
"I was absolutely buzzing when I found out that I had been picked to start and the first thing I did was call my old man.
Cheltenham come back down to Earth when they play Oldham tomorrow night.
And former KES Academy pupil Freestone, who now wants to go on and help the Robins win promotion, thanked his family and friends for all of their support.
"All of the support from my family and friends back home has been brilliant and that's what motivates you," he said.
"My mum said it was weird seeing me on telly, but hopefully that won't be the last time.
"I can't thank my family enough. I hope that repays them for all the support they have given me and all of the times they took me to football when I was a kid."