When Everton raided Swindon Town for their academy graduate Lukas Jutkiewicz in 2007, few may have forseen how poorly things would turn out for the striker at Goodison Park under David Moyes.
But after a nomadic career having failed to make the grade on Merseyside, the Polish forward found a home for himself at Birmingham City in 2017 on the back of an initial loan spell.
Life at St. Andrew’s has been good for Jutkiewicz in most, and on Sunday he reached a landmark by making the 500th senior appearance of his career in a 1-0 win over Rotherham United that moved Lee Bowyer’s side nine points clear of the relegation zone.
Who was at fault for Jutkiewicz failing to make it at Everton?
It was 15-years ago this month that Jutkiewicz made his senior debut for Swindon in a 2-1 defeat to Swansea City, just two weeks after his 17th birthday, but his efforts as the season petered out failed to prevent the Robins from being relegated to the fourth-tier.
Yet it was in League Two that Jutkiewicz caught the eye of Everton and Moyes, who agreed to hand the then 18-year-old a lucrative contract as part of a £1m move, after an impressive campaign with five goals and two assists in 33 appearances despite only starting 13 times.
Action was much harder to secure at Goodison Park, even with Moyes claiming in 2008 that the Southampton-born centre-forward “is certainly in our thoughts” after showing progress behind the scenes, with the only appearance of his Toffees career lasting just four minutes.
Jutkiewicz featured on the bench in dribs and drabs between his arrival in 2007, loan spells with Plymouth Argyle, Huddersfield Town and Motherwell before eventually leaving in 2010 when sold to Coventry City. But his only outing for Everton came as a late substitute when replacing Tim Cahill in a 3-0 win at home to Sunderland in December 2008.
His time with Coventry failed to make Everton regret his departure with Jutkiewicz only scoring 18 goals in 69 games across all competitions before joining Middlesbrough, where he would again attract Premier League interest – this time from Burnley.
The Clarets spent £2.5m on Jutkiewicz in 2014 but would fail to see the forward find the back of the net in any of his 35 appearances, but did offer three assists – including one in a 3-1 defeat to Everton to equalise after Samuel Eto’o had opened the scoring.
That was the closest Jutkiewicz has ever come to making the Blues regret his exit, having gone on to round out the first 500 games of his senior career by establishing himself as a solid if not remarkable Championship centre-forward with Birmingham.
In 213 games across all competitions for the second city side, the now 32-year-old has hit 51 goals and offered 23 assists, with personal-best league returns of 14 goals in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 campaigns.
Jutkiewicz currently has five goals in 39 games this term as the £10,000-per-week frontman enters the twilight years of his career as a two-time Premier League flop, having failed to fulfil the promise that first caught Everton and Moyes’ attention more than a decade ago.