David Stockdale has played in the Premier League, been on the fringes of an England cap and is now Albion's new No. 1.

It is quite a turnaround for the Yorkshireman, who feared he had blown his chance of a career in professional football in his early Twenties.

Stockdale was working as a groundsman at a local cricket club in his home city of Leeds and frequenting public houses with friends after a former Albion midfielder showed him a red card.

Scotsman Billy McEwan, a midfielder for the Seagulls in the 1970's, was manager of York City when he released Stockdale after he had completed his apprenticeship at Bootham Crescent and made 27 appearances for them, the vast majority in the Conference.

Questions were levelled about Stockdale's desire and application, which gained validity as the former Huddersfield Town schoolboy started working as a groundsman and batting for the first team at his local cricket club, New Farnley, to fund his drinking with pals.

Stockdale, recalling the troubled launch to his career in an interview with the Hull Mail, said: "I got into going to the pub with my mates. Did I think my chance had gone? Yes, I did a little bit.

"You don't really train for anything as you don't think the call is going to come. I was just settling into life and working. When you're that age all you want do is go out and I wanted some cash to be able to do that."

Salvation was at hand in the shape of a move to Darlington in League Two at the start of the 2006-07 season.

Stockdale said: "When I started trialling at Darlington I said 'Okay, I'll come but I'm getting some decent money working.' They offered pretty much the same and so I went.

"I stopped all the drinking when I was at Darlo. You obviously go out with your mates still but you can't go out every week when you're playing for a Football League club and representing football in general. I think I'm still paying for those pints of beer now though!"

It was a dramatic turning point in Stockdale's fortunes. His form in two seasons at Darlington earned him a £600,000 move to Fulham in the Premier League in 2008.

Although his first team involvement at Craven Cottage was initially limited and he was loaned out to Rotherham, Leicester and Plymouth, Stockdale had by February 2011 caught the eye of England manager Fabio Capello. He was called up to understudy Joe Hart. "I had about a year in the England squad with Fabio Capello," Stockdale said. "He just kept picking me for some reason!

"I never got a cap but just to be around that sort of thing gives you a bit of a carrot.

"I didn't get picked because I wasn't playing so ever since then you know you need to go out and prove yourself again.

"It was great experience. Training with Joe Hart, Robert Green and Scott Carson can only make you better and with a coach like Capello, training and listening to what he has to say, I'll never forget those times."

Stockdale played a big part in Hull's promotion from the Championship in two loan spells two seasons ago.

He kept nine clean sheets in 24 appearances. According to Hull manager Steve Bruce, he restored "authority and presence" to the No. 1 shirt.

Now, wearing No. 13 for Albion, the 6ft 3ins shot-stopper is hoping for a similar impact with Albion after an eventful 21 appearances in Fulham's relegation from the Premier League last season, including shut-outs against Sunderland, Newcastle, Norwich and Stoke, conceding six back at Hull and five against Manchester City.