Two-goal Matt Smith, Latics' FA Cup with Budweiser hero, admitted his world has turned upside down in a dramatic 18 months.
The 6ft 6in striker, man of the match in yesterday's victory against Liverpool, has gone from playing non league and working in bars and restaurants for the national minimum wage, to being a key figure in the biggest giantkilling act of round four.
Smith said: "Playing against Liverpool and scoring twice was my career highlight by a mile. Only football can do to me what has happened in the last 18 months.
"To be starting out in the lower levels of non-league football and doing a degree at university to then find yourself on ITV playing against Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup is pretty ridiculous.
"Sometimes you have to pinch yourself, especially when days like this happen."
Smith added he savours the good times even more considering his background.
He continued: "Of course I appreciate it more. It is something I say a lot to the to the younger lads.
"I have experienced the reality of working in bars and restaurants on the national minimum wage.
"It goes to show you much you need to work and, if you do, you get your just rewards with games like this."
Smith's world has turned upside down in little over one month.
Since Matt Derbyshire returned to Nottingham Forest in mid-December Smith, who had been a regular on the bench, has been afforded a first spell of sustained first-team football with yesterday his ninth successive start.
He explained: "The manager has given me my opportunity to start and have an extended run of games which has been wonderful.
"I have tried my best to repay him the best I can.
"I am not taking anything for granted and am looking to push on."
Smith added he was lucky to play the final 20 minutes in last season's FA Cup tie at Anfield.
"To play a full game against Liverpool, come out on top and to score two goals and be named man of the match is definitely the highlight of my career," he continued.
Smith added that it was the strength of Liverpool's side was a measure of the respect they had for Latics.
And there was praise for his team-mates for battling through to the last 16.
He said: "We haven't got to the fifth round by luck. It is through hard work and dedication.
"You have to give credit to all 18 lads in the squad. We battled for every ball."
Smith added the atmosphere was "electric" as he experienced a sell-out at Boundary Park for the first time.
"It was absolutely rocking and the way the fans got behind us gave us that extra lift," he concluded.