Macauley Bonne will fulfil a lifelong dream should he find the back of the net this weekend.
For many, the showpiece FA Cup final between Manchester City and Watford is viewed as the only competitive football on show over the next few days, but Wembley will open its doors once again on Sunday for Non-League Finals day, where Leyton Orient take on AFC Fylde in the FA Trophy, live on talkSPORT 2.
The final not only presents Orient with an excellent opportunity to take a second piece of silverware back to east London this season, having already been crowned National League champions, but also provides the club’s supporters with a fitting day out on the big stage, something which is richly deserved after a somewhat turbulent few years off the pitch.
Prior to Nigel Travis and Kent Teague’s takeover in 2017, Orient were in the High Court just days after being relegated from the Football League for the first time in 112 years, with many supporters questioning whether they’d even have a club left to support under the ownership of Francesco Becchetti.
But the feel good factor has certainly returned to the Breyer Group Stadium, with Orient back in League 2 after a two-year spell away, and Bonne has certainly played his role in the O’s success on the pitch.
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The 23-year-old striker has been Orient’s top scorer in the last two seasons and with 49 goals to his name, the former Colchester United man can’t think of a better way to mark his half century by netting at Wembley.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s FA Trophy final, Bonne told talkSPORT: “I’ve got one more goal to get until I get my 50th goal for Orient. I think that will be the best place to do it. I’m ready.”
“I’m a striker so I want to score goals. If it means scoring an absolute worldie or a little tap in, it doesn’t matter as they all count. Boys dream of scoring at Wembley and for me, the fact that I could go there and leave with a goal, I’d be the happiest boy on the planet.
“To come from winning the Conference and getting promoted, now to have the chance of walking out at Wembley in the same season is a big achievement for us. We’re all really excited for it.”
Success in the FA Trophy could kickstart a dream summer off the pitch for Bonne, who has been included in Zimbabwe’s squad for the Africa Cup of Nations this summer.
From playing at Halifax and Boreham Wood this campaign, representing his nation at a major tournament would be a real coming of age for the 23-year-old, who had yet to find his feet in the professional game prior to moving to east London.
Should he feature, Bonne will line up against Mohamed Salah’s Egypt in Zimbabwe’s first game of the tournament, but the young striker is not fazed by the challenge.
He said: “It’s world football now. I’m going to be playing against some of the best players in the world now and I’m excited. I’m itching to go now.”
“When you’re on the pitch, they’re just a name to you. I’ve played against some big players. On the pitch you just see them as another footballer but after, I will have my big fan moment.”
Orient and Bonne’s relationship has fitted like a glove since the former Ipswich Town trainee moved to the Breyer Group Stadium in 2017.
Both were in need of redemption; for Orient, they needed to rebuild and return to their former glory, while Bonne needed a chance to prove himself as a natural goal scorer after failing to get a run of games for Colchester.
The move has since worked a treat, with Bonne’s goals, coupled with the team spirit in the dressing room, led by veteran Jobi McAnuff, and Justin Edinburgh’s leadership, guiding the O’s back to the promised land of the Football League.
A 0-0 draw with Braintree Town on the final day of the season secured the National League title, queuing wild celebrations from both players and supporters long into the night.
Unsurprisingly, Bonne’s form in his two campaigns at Brisbane Road has seen him linked with League One and Championship clubs, as well as former Premier League champions Leicester City.
But now at a place where he is truly appreciated, Bonne has no intentions of moving on and instead has his sights set on firing Orient to a second promotion in successive seasons.
“[Winning the National League,] is my highest moment so far. I’ve never been in a promotion winning team. I’ve always been fighting relegations. To come here and get promoted back into the League in my second season, it’s the highest moment in my career so far.”
“I took a step down out of the league to prove that I could play minutes and score goals. Now we’re back in the Football League, it’s my chance to show everyone, especially at Colchester, what I can do back in the Football League. I hoped they would have given me more of a chance but that’s football; it doesn’t go the way you always want it to go.
“I can’t thank everyone at Orient enough for doing that for me. Now I can show everyone in League Two what I can do hopefully.
“Where else would I want to be? I’m the main man at the minute. My eyes aren’t being wondered whatsoever.
“It’s exciting to see what we can do in League Two. You’ve seen the likes of Tranmere, Forest Green who have come up from the Conference and are fighting for promotion to League One. I’d say we’re just as good or even better than some of the teams in there. I see us doing that next season if we all stick together.”
AFC Fylde vs Leyton Orient is live on talkSPORT 2 on Sunday 19 May at 16:15