SAMMIE Szmodics is on the verge of ending his 16-year association with Colchester United and joining Bristol City, according to reports.

And if the talented 23-year-old clinches his transfer to the Robins as expected, there will be a neat symmetry about the move.

After all, it all started for Szmodics at Ashton Gate.

It was at that venue he made the step up from academy player to the Football League when he was handed his U’s senior debut by Joe Dunne back in September, 2013.

Szmodics came on as a late substitute for Craig Eastmond that afternoon as Colchester battled to a 1-1 draw – and the former Stanway School pupil has not looked back since.

More than 150 league and cup appearances – and 38 goals – later, he is now about to move onto pastures new and show off his skills in the Championship.

Szmodics undoubtedly has the potential to go to the very top.

He has skill, craft and instinct in abundance and in addition to that, has a first-class attitude.

There has never been a game he has played for Colchester where he has given anything less than 100 per cent and he can be proud of what he has achieved with his home town club.

How dearly he would have loved to have left the U’s on the back of a promotion and no-one cut a more dejected figure than Szmodics after their final-day game at Lincoln City.

Despite scoring twice to help his side to a superb 3-0 win at the home of the newly-crowned champions and finish as the U’s top scorer for the second successive season, results elsewhere cruelly denied Colchester a play-off place.

That was a shame but speaking after that game, which looks very much like it will be his last for the club, Szmodics spoke typically well about his own future.

“It’s been a fantastic 16 years for me at Colchester,” he said.

“Wherever I’m playing my football, people know I work hard and know if I do leave, it’s not out of spite.

“Football is a short career and people have got to go and play at the highest level and really test themselves.

“If it is my last game or if it isn’t, I think I’ve given enough to the club and to the fans to prove my worth.”

It has not always been an easy road for Szmodics.

Despite being only 23 years old, he has already had to deal with his fair share of injuries and setbacks.

But he always battled back from them and it seems as though that adversity has made him an even stronger player.

That is testament not only to Szmodics but also to Colchester, their academy system and not least head coach John McGreal, who has overseen the attacker’s development every step of the way.

And while Colchester will be sad to see Szmodics leave, they are nevertheless set to receive a tidy sum for his services, not to mention the kudos that a high-profile move from one of their youth-team products will bring to the reputation.

Seeing Szmodics depart will be tough to take for U’s fans, especially on the back of Frankie Kent’s departure last week.

But whatever happens in the future, Sammie will always be one of Colchester United’s own.