MINNEAPOLIS -- A year ago, Tottenham Hotspur youngsters Luke Amos and Oliver Skipp were eating lunch together at an under-21 tournament in France -- which they won -- and dreaming of one day facing European giants like Barcelona, Roma and AC Milan.
That dream has come true quicker than they both expected.
With Spurs missing seven central midfielders during their preseason tour of the United States, the pair suddenly became important figures.
In fact, 21-year-old Amos was on the field for all but seven minutes of the three matches in San Diego, Los Angeles and Minneapolis.
Skipp, 17, also appeared in each of the games and played alongside Amos throughout the final one against Milan, which Spurs won 1-0.
"It's definitely been interesting for us," Amos said before Spurs made their return to the U.K. "We didn't look this far ahead last year but it's crazy now, having been out here playing Barcelona.
"Life's crazy. You think you know what's going to happen but you can never predict it.
"Last year was a completely different preseason to this year, and I'm enjoying every minute of it. Oliver's a top player too, definitely one for the future."
Many of the young midfield talents these days have been inspired by Spain's pass masters, and Amos was initially the same.
But he has increasingly started to model himself on someone else -- an industrious Chelsea player who has won two Premier League titles and a World Cup in his last three seasons.
"I like to watch a lot of football and I like to watch a lot of midfielders," Amos said. "As a child I liked Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta, but now [I've been more struck with] how amazing [N'Golo] Kante's been.
"I love to watch Kante and see all the plaudits he's getting. Maybe in the past players [like him] didn't get that, so to see Kante and all the praise he's getting is really good to hear.
"It's just his all-round game, his energy, running, tackling, passing. He's taken the defensive midfield or box-to-box midfield role to a new level with his energy.
"I'd say I'm a box-to-box, defensive-minded player. I'm not a No. 10, I'm not a tricky winger. I just focus on running, passing, getting on the ball, making things happen, stopping things -- everything really.
"It's something Kante does as well, so if I can be anything like him I'd like that."
Amos is also keen to emulate the Tottenham players who have graduated from the club's academy in recent years and become first-team regulars. Indeed, he feels their stories have given all of Spurs' youngsters hope.
"It's amazing to see," Amos said. "It gives you that extra motivation because you can see it, you can see the path. You see what Winksy [Harry Winks] has done, Ryan Mason. Obviously Harry Kane is now at the top of the world.
"It's definitely something the coaches say -- that it's doable. When you're walking around the training ground there's all these players that have made it. You come in each day and think 'I've got to make sure I work hard so I get there.'"
So far Amos' senior experience has come in League One and League Two, with loan spells at Southend and Stevenage in the last two seasons.
But with Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele only returning to training after the World Cup on Monday, while Winks, Victor Wanyama, Moussa Sissoko, Josh Onomah and Tashan Oakley-Boothe are all injury doubts, Amos could be named in the squad for next weekend's opening Premier League fixture at Newcastle. He insists he would be prepared if called upon.
"You've got to be confident in your own ability," he said. "That's what you train every day for. That's what you envisage as a child, that's what you envisage when you're practising. So if I ever get the call I like to think I'll be ready and I'll be confident.
"Going out on loan, it's always good to get games. It opens up your eyes and you see different things. I was always confident in myself [when I was heading out to other clubs]. I knew what I had to do.
"I always just focus on what I do, my game, and hopefully that works. Normally it does. Hopefully I'll take that, learn and go on to progress and get to where I want to be.
"League Two is definitely a competitive league but it's not like playing against Roma or Barcelona. It was definitely a good experience [in the U.S.] -- tough but something I'm ready for and I've enjoyed."