Curtis Davies officially came of age yesterday. However, he has long been a man at the heart of West Bromwich Albion's defence this season.
While Davies was celebrating his 21st birthday in suitably low-key fashion, he had earmarked his perfect birthday present.
As a staunch Manchester United fan from London (where else) the opportunity for him to upstage his boyhood heroes this weekend is manna from heaven for the stylish defender.
Davies has grown up quickly in the Premiership arena since his #3 million arrival from Luton last August. He has quickly established himself as the linchpin at the heart of Albion's defence and his impressive form has earned a call-up to the England Under-21 squad.
Speculation has been rife in the national media that Arsenal are keeping tabs on Davies but the club say there have been no offers from any other club. Yet if Davies continues in the impressive vein of form he has shown all season it is a racing certainty that he will attract admiring glances from the Premiership aristocrats.
But Davies, who is managed by the Professional Footballers' Association, has a wise head on his young shoulders and is unlikely to have his head turned by the constant drip feed of speculation finding its way into the press.
He said: "The speculation wasn't unsettling. I take it as a compliment because if people are writing things like that then I must be doing well. At the end of day it is just paper talk and I don't pay too much attention to it. It was the same when I was at Luton.
"Apparently there were ten teams looking at me but, when it came down to bids, West Brom were the one.
"If the PFA have got any information from anyone then they would let me know. At present they haven't said anything."
So Davies can focus on the task in hand, which involves trying to halt Manchester United in their tracks.
The birthday boy was ineligible when Albion were swatted aside in the Carling Cup and he was unable to stop Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney running amok on Boxing Day as United cruised to a 3-0 win.
Bryan Robson, the Albion manager, handed Davies the captain's armband against United to confirm his standing at the club and he says he has learned from the chastening experience in December.
Davies said: "Being captain was something I wasn't expecting to happen against Manchester United.
"It seems to be that celebration time means we play against Manchester United.
"It was Christmas time and I was made captain and it is my birthday today, so they are here again.
"It is a hard game to go into. Maybe these are the games we need at this stage of the season as we tend to do better against the bigger opposition at home.
"The ideal birthday present would be for a clean sheet, three points and for me to score the winner  that's a dream not a present," he said with a laugh. "However, our game plan on Boxing Day seemed to be working until Paul Robinson got injured and then it went pear-shaped.
"I don't know what formation we are going to play but I think 4-5-1 makes us more solid. They won't be able to run right through us."
Davies is thoroughly enjoying the experience of the Premiership and, despite the occasional aberration such as conceding a penalty against Birmingham last week, looks totally at ease. Having squared up against the likes of Bournemouth and Walsall only 12 months ago it is a seismic leap in class for him.
Davies is continuing to live the dream, though, and has a refreshing attitude free of cynicism.
He said: "It is unbelievable and I am enjoying every minute of it. I am just trying to get better and better.
"The biggest single difference is that the players you play against can dish out punishment. They can be quiet and then suddenly sting you with a goal. Certain players have got such a good touch that as soon as they get that one chance it is over.
"There are also more athletes at this level and the workrate people put in getting up and down the pitch is far greater. In League One you would have central midfielders who would just sit in the middle of the park but that doesn't happen in the Premiership."