WIGAN, England -- In two weeks, a new chapter in Caribbean football history will be written, when Wigan Athletic and Barbados defender Emmerson Boyce enters the legendary Wembley Stadium pitch for the FA Cup final against Manchester City.
For Wigan, after 81 years of existence, it will be a first-ever appearance in the finale of the world's most famous domestic cup competition; an emotional feat. For the people of Barbados, it will be an equally moving experience to watch their most accomplished professional footballer march out of the tunnel.
A hard-fought 2-0 semifinal win over Millwall on April 13, also at Wembley, earned the Latics a return trip to London.
"We always knew Millwall were going to be a tough game," Boyce said. "They had good opportunities and could have scored, but we showed great character. It was a professional performance and we can look forward to the final now."
Wigan, though, remains in a relegation scrap and currently sit in the Premier League's bottom three. The FA Cup is an attractive distraction, but every game for the remainder of the season will seem like a final, regardless of the competition.
Boyce values Wigan's remarkable development and what the club has done for him: "Wigan gave me a chance to get back into the Premier League when I was at (Crystal) Palace. The club's come a long way. I've seen a lot of players come and go.
Born in Aylesbury, England, the 33-year-old joined Wigan in 2006 and broke the club record for Premier League appearances (146) against Aston Villa on February 25, 2012.
He has played for Barbados four times, all in World Cup Qualifying matches, including a memorably narrow 1-0 loss to CONCACAF power United States on June 22, 2008.
"My parents were born in Barbados," Boyce told CONCACAF.com. "My mother Lucille was born in St. Andrew and my dad Melvin was born in St. Lucy.
"I still have loads of family who still live in Barbados, and my cousin Omar Phillips will hopefully be the next superstar coming from there."
Unyielding effort, Boyce believes, is the key for any young player with a desire to compete at the highest possible level.
"It takes a lot of hard work and bit of luck on the way," he said. "I started off in the lower league in League 2, so I have come through all the leagues and had my first experience of premiership football with Crystal Palace.
"I have been lucky enough to be playing with Wigan in the Premier League for seven seasons. I have always had to fight hard to keep me place. I may not be the most gifted player, but I put in the hard work and try and give 100 percent in every game, and so far it has worked for me."
Boyce is undaunted by the challenge of staying in the English top flight and winning the FA Cup. He will give his best over the coming crucial weeks, playing with Barbados and Wigan in his heart.