FULFILLING a childhood dream is the pinnacle for any sportsperson - but little did Juan Ugarte know that winning the LDV Vans Trophy final would be just as special.

Growing up in San Sebastian, Ugarte always wanted to pull on the famous blue and white shirt of Real Sociedad, a feat he achieved when stepping off the bench in the 76th minute of a 3-2 defeat at Real Zaragoza in October 2001.

Just over three years later, Ugarte was able to create another magic moment in his career by scoring in Wrexham’s 2-0 success over Southend at the Millennium Stadium.

From his home in Spain, Ugarte said: “Winning the LDV Vans Trophy was amazing. I would say it is one of my best achievements in my football career.

“I have two moments that are really special to me. One was my debut in La Liga for Real Sociedad. That day when I played against Zaragoza it was one of the most important days in my life because since I was a kid my dream was to play for Real Sociedad.

“Parallel with that one would be winning the LDV Vans Trophy.

“When I arrived at Wrexham everyone was unbelievable towards me. It was such a difficult season because of the money problems, but to end up winning the LDV Vans Trophy was amazing. It was an absolutely great day.

“I remember the celebrations with Sir Alex Ferguson and seeing John Toshack, who was the man who gave me my debut with Real Sociedad.

“I can remember the incredible atmosphere in the dressing room after the game and everyone having a fantastic time.

“We were a very good team, on and off the pitch, and the atmosphere was unbelievable.”

Striker Ugarte broke the deadlock in south Wales in the first-half of extra-time, before Darren Ferguson made the game safe by adding a late second.

The 39-year-old brushes off any ‘match-winner’ tag, insisting that he was simply doing his job by putting the ball in the back of the net.

“I think every single player was doing their job,” said Ugarte modestly. “My job was to score goals and I was very happy that I could carry out that job.

“Ben Foster was in goal and he had to stop the opposition scoring, which he did, Darren Ferguson’s game was to help everyone else play, which he did, and Matty Crowell was great at tackling. Everyone was doing their job - Carlos Edwards, Chris Llewellyn and everyone else.

“My main objective was to score goals and I was very happy that I could help the team by doing just that.”

And Ugarte was full of confidence heading into the final having been named League One’s player of the month for March, helped by his five-goal blitz in the famous 6-4 success at Hartlepool.

“That was something that gave me an extra motivation,” said Ugarte of his individual honour. “When you win those trophies it means you are doing your job well and helping the team, which is the most important thing.

“Since the November of that season my confidence was very, very high. Denis Smith was the main man for me, he gave me a lot of confidence saying: ‘Juan, you are very good in the box. We will get the ball in and you have to score the goals’. That was what I tried to do.”

Ugarte certainly did that at Victoria Park, wrapping up his hat-trick inside 35 minutes of kick-off before adding a second-half brace either side of a goal from Mark Jones.

“A lot of people send me the video of the five goals against Hartlepool,” continued Ugarte.

“The game was incredible. One team would score and then the other team would score three minutes later, it was crazy, but the best game of my life.

“I scored another five with Real Sociedad reserves and I also remember Chesterfield away when I scored four and I scored three against Stockport.

“I have all of the balls from those games in my house, I look after them really well because you don’t do those things too often.”

Also on the list of things that don’t happen too often include a training ground disagreement with a close friend ahead of a final at the national stadium.

Matty Crowell lifted the lid on him and Ugarte almost coming to blows, the Spaniard also vividly recalling the pre-match showdown.

“I remember a few days before the game we had that big argument at the training ground,” he said.

“We nearly ended up fighting, but we didn’t, and the gaffer decided to put us in a hotel room together.

“I remember Matty’s mum coming to our room and saying: ‘What are you two doing trying to fight each other? Go out there and win the game’.

“It was a funny moment because Matty was really important for me, he treated me really well and looked after me fantastically.”

While Ugarte can look back on the build-up to the LDV Vans Trophy success with fondness, he’s still frustrated that Wrexham were relegated from League One that season.

“We ended up going down to League Two and that was a bad moment,” he said. “The team deserved to be in League One and with a proper season we were good enough to make the play-offs to go up to the Championship.

“You can see from the players that they were capable of playing at a higher level.

“Ben Foster ended up signing for Manchester United and playing for England, Carlos Edwards went to Luton and then Sunderland, Darren Ferguson had come from the Premier League and playing with Wolves and Chris Llewellyn was a really good signing.

“Mark Jones was a special player, really, really talented and I was disappointed he couldn’t have a great career because he was one of the main men in that team.

“Matty Crowell played for Wales Under-21s and there were some really, really good players.

“I was very disappointed the team couldn’t go up or stay where they should be, instead they got relegated.”

After relegation, Ugarte signed for Crewe Alex, then in the Championship, but the move didn’t work out how the striker had planned.

Injuries hampered Ugarte, who also quickly came to learn that not all managers were as supportive as Denis Smith.

He explained: “The move to Crewe was another step in my career. I went to England with the dream of playing in the Premier League.

“I had to go to Dorchester for a few games and did quite well, scoring a few goals, which got me the move to Wrexham, where I scored a few goals.

“My mind was set on trying to go to the Championship and do the same job and if I scored another 25 goals there would be a chance to play in the Premier League.

“Things didn’t work out. With Dario Gradi I don’t think he liked me as a player and that showed me that you need a special manager, who trusts you.

“I would go with Denis Smith wherever he wanted like Portsmouth or anywhere. He gave me the confidence to score goals.

“In this life you need to take risks and I went to Crewe thinking it was the right move, but it didn’t work out. I had a really bad time with injuries and I went back to Spain where I had to finish my career.”

Ugarte was tempted by a move to Melbourne after a brief return to The Racecourse, but his injuries forced early retirement, the Spaniard now working as a player agent with You First Sports.

He does, however, still keep a close eye on proceedings in north Wales, catching up infrequently with former colleagues.

“It’s a pity Wrexham are in the position they are, but hopefully we can start winning to try and get promoted league-by-league, step-by-step because it’s an absolutely great club,” said Ugarte, who has an 18-month old daughter.

“I’ve spoken with Rooster a few times because of the job I do now, Matty Crowell quite often, I have a few texts with Chris Llewellyn and I see a few others on social media.

“I adored my time at Wrexham and I will never forget the club.”