BURY AFC’s keeper Ed Wilczynski hopes for clean sheets, clean cuts and a bit of luck as he juggles two careers at the Neuven Stadium.

For a player that was at a Championship club just four years ago, it appears Wilczynski has taken a huge drop to sign for the phoenix club.

But for the goalkeeper however, it is the chance to play the game he loves while enjoying a second career as a barber.

Aged 14, Wilczynski fulfilled his dream of signing for Huddersfield Town and gained experience in non-league while out on loan at Trafford, FC United and Bishop Auckland. When he left in 2016, a series of events transpired that eventually led him to trying a new trade altogether.

Speaking on Bury AFC’s Shaken up Show on the club’s YouTube channel, he described what happened after leaving the Terriers.

The 26-year-old said: “It was a weird one. I went to York City, and got in there and did really well. I got told I was signing – (they) offered me a contract and everything.”

Wilczynski admitted he was “buzzing” to sign for the National League side but on the day he was due to put pen to paper, he ended up alone after training and unable to find any other players or staff.

“I didn’t really know what to do, so I stuck around and had a shower and everything and then just knocked on the manager’s door and said: ‘What’s happening? I’m signing today.’”

He was swiftly told by the boss, former Scotland and Celtic defender, Jackie McNamara, that the club had decided to go in another direction and bring in a different stopper. And with that, Wilczynski’s chance at the club was gone.

After a couple of weeks spent working with a friend who was an electrician, Wilczynski experienced a second sliding doors moment when another professional club came calling, this time AFC Fylde.

“The exact same thing happened to me there,” reflected the shot-stopper.

“I got offered a contract, drove into training two days later and saw another ‘keeper with the number 1 shirt, on the pitch, signing a contract.”

When talking about his football career, Wilczynski is typically understated and added: “I came across a few hurdles to keep at it.”

A year on from missing out at York and Fylde, Wilczynski was playing semi-professionally while working as a labourer. The experience of working for nine months, building timber frames in a warehouse, was enough to inspire a career change. And he settled on barbering.

“Everyone looked at me strange – from footballer to hairdressing… but it was just something I liked, I enjoyed it,” he said. “I didn’t see it as work – you’re meeting new people every day.”

At 24-years-old and on £3.40 an hour, football became something to supplement his income while doing his qualifications.

Wilczynski was playing for the fan-owned Darlington FC at the time and he met as many interesting characters in the barber’s chair as there were congregating behind the goal on a match-day.

He said: “You come across some weird and wonderful people, you really do. Some people are there for a haircut – in and out and some are there for a chat and a coffee and that’s their day out.”

With the salon shut for five months, lockdown has been difficult for him off the field.

The latest restrictions come as another blow, with the North West Counties Football League season once again suspended. Having also been red carded against Golcar United in November, the goalkeeper is confined to the sidelines either way.

His three-match ban still has one game remaining but with the uncertainty caused by the

Covid-19 restrictions, it will be some time before he can again take to the field in a Bury shirt.

As for the prospect of returning to the professional ranks, Wilczynski is a realist.

“With football, a contract can end the next day or the following year,” said the Yorkshireman.

“With the job I’ve got now, it’s a job for life. I’ve got a trade – I can go into other salons and work (too).

“It’s a tough one because if I was to go pro for three or four years and then come back out, I’d have to restart again… I’d definitely consider it but I think in my own head, it’s passed me. I think it’s sort of gone.

“So I just focus on what I’ve got in front of me now, which is Bury and the barbering.”

For Wilczynski, being at Bury AFC gives him the possibility of playing for a large fanbase and enjoying his football.

He added: “I think it’s a project that everyone has bought into and every person that’s come to the club has not thought about dropping down a league or anything like that – they’ve seen the bigger picture.”

Wilczynski’s first mission, however, will be to win his place back in the starting eleven. That in turn will only arise once the league season resumes and his suspension is served. But, after everything he has gone through in his career he will be sure to cut through any obstacles standing in his way.