Nathan Redmond passed the biggest test of his career when he made his England debut in Germany.
But the Southampton star admits he may never have made the grade as a pro if he failed in school.
Redmond burst onto the scene as a teenager and earned a place on Birmingham’s bench before his 16th birthday.
However, the wing-wizard was warned he wouldn’t be able to sign terms with the Blues unless he performed in the classroom as well.
He said: “I was on the bench for Birmingham before I was even doing my GCSEs. It was difficult not getting too excited.
“But my mum warned me that If I didn’t do well in my exams then she wouldn’t let me sign my scholarship. I had to get minimum grade Cs. She was deadly serious.
“I’m not stupid. She was just trying to make sure I had the basics and a foundation underneath me so that I could kick on in the worst case scenario.”
Redmond credits his mum, Michelle, for keeping him on the right track as he made his way through the ranks at St Andrew’s.
However, the 23-year-old admits he is not too old for a verbal volley from his biggest fan if he fails to produce the goods.
“She raised me on her own and took me to every game from when I was six or seven right up until I could drive, so I can’t thank her enough,” he said.
“My mum wanted to make sure I kept my head down and didn’t get into any trouble. It’s been embedded in me from the start.
“There were bad crowds all around where I grew up.
“Sometimes you get hit with a realisation with what’s right and wrong. I had to be in before the street lights came on. If I put a foot wrong it was all about learning my lesson.
“Kids today are happy to sit on the Playstation or with their iPads, which baffles me. When I was that age I was outside kicking a ball about all day. If I misbehaved I wouldn’t be allowed out.”
Redmond will be hoping Southampton can cause a shock on Tuesday night when Claude Puel’s men travel to leaders Chelsea.
And the former Norwich flyer insists the Saints have the weapons to “hurt” Antonio Conte’s Blues.
He added: “I’m not surprised how well they’ve done because got fantastic players. It’s good to see them back in the mix as it felt like there was something missing with them out of it last season.
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“But any team on their day is beatable. We need to be solid because they are dangerous but they can be hurt – every team has a weakness.
“They’re fighting to win the league and we’re fighting to finish as high as we can, so we’ve got different agendas, but we’ll both be trying to win the game.”
*Nathan Redmond was speaking at a Sure event. Sure are an official partner of Southampton FC. Join the conversation @Sure #NeverMoreSure