IT is a journey few, including Jamie Gillan himself, could have predicted. 

As a kid growing up in the Scottish Highlands, the NFL seemed as foreign a land as he could imagine.

But these days, playing in front of crowds of 70,000 for the Cleveland Browns has become commonplace for the 22-year-old.

Gillan began his sporting life as a rugby player, which led to him losing interest.

It was purely through luck that he converted to American football though. His friend saw him kick a ball and suggested he could get a scholarship for American football. A visit to his high school coach to demonstrate his skills ended in the team’s regular kicker being unceremoniously fired, with Gillan taking his spot.

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He was then thrown in the deep end, and his he freely admits his first few games were something of a shock to the system.

“I didn’t know a single thing about American football,” he said.

“I was sitting on the sidelines so bored thinking what is going on?

“It was crazy, but I rolled with it, that’s the type of personality I have – if a door opens, I’ll go and try it out.”

It didn’t take Gillan long to catch the eye. He played in two All-Star games but going down the college route without a scholarship was almost unthinkable for the Scot – a tab of around $45,000 per year was out of the question and so a scholarship was his only possible route if he was to make it in the sport.

Another stroke of luck, where Arkansas Pine Bluff’s kicker de-committed leaving an opening for them to sign Gillan on a scholarship, was the Scot’s big break. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, but it was not an easy schedule.

“I didn't realise how full-on it was going to be,” he said.

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“We were training five days a week. Especially in the off season, we're up at 4.30 in the morning doing 30 110 yard sprints, eight classes then two hours of lifting.

“Then I'd go afterwards and keep kicking because that's what I was there for, and doing that every day.

"It’s a lot more full-on with sports so you’ve got to manage your time a lot better to stay on top of your grades. If you fail class in the States, they take you off the field and you lose your scholarship so you can’t fail classes.

"It was a really tough schedule but it was worth it."

Gillon impressed during his high-school days, but went undrafted in the 2019 draft, which for some, would have been a devastating blow. Not for Gillan though.

"I didn't get drafted and people were saying 'I'm so sorry' and I'm like 'I'm not bothered at all!'.

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"I didn't expect to get drafted, I'm not a big-name guy."

However, once the draft was over, Gillan signed for Cleveland Browns but with the experienced and much-respected Britton Colquitt Cleveland’s regular punter, opportunities looked unlikely for the Scot.

That would be to underestimate him though, as he has displaced former Superbowl winner Colquitt as the team’s first-choice kicker and in a team which is full of superstars, including Odell Beckham Jr, was one of the stand-out performers.

It is a decision he has not regretted. And with Gillan still learning his trade, it seems his best is yet to come.