Often derided as one of Liverpool's worst signings, Jordan Henderson was previously the subject of jokes alongside Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll compared to Newcastle's shrewd acquisitions such as Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa.
Two years on from Henderson's arrival, Downing and Carroll have joined West Ham, Cisse and Ben Arfa are lacking belief and, before I forget, Liverpool are top of the Premier League.
Now the man from Wearside is a crucial member of the Reds' midfield and has been an ever-present in a side chasing their first league title in 24 years.
He has flourished in his third year at Anfield after it appeared the Merseyside club had taken a gamble by spending £20m on a 20-year-old in June 2011.
Although Henderson quickly established himself as one of Sunderland's most talented players, he looked slightly overawed playing for the five-time European champions.
The following summer, Brendan Rodgers was appointed manager and this helped transform the central midfielder's confidence and performances.
As well as being aided by the presence of Steven Gerrard, Henderson's strengths were at the core of Rodgers philosophy and Liverpool's approach soon became about high pressing and calmly keeping possession.
Henderson's energy is a quality you would naturally associate with an English player, but his sublime touch and composure on the ball make him stand out from the rest.
Rodgers' tactics suit the 23-year-old superbly, evident by Liverpool's league position and the fact that Henderson has completed 31 out of 32 league games in 2013/14.
His work-rate will be a crucial attribute in the scorching heat of Brazil along with his useful ball retention; a quality England have historically lacked.
England boss Roy Hodgson gave Henderson a start in this month's friendly against Denmark and he looks favourite to partner Gerrard against Italy in the Three Lions' World Cup opener on June 14.
Jack Wilshere broke his foot at Wembley and his stuttering season due to form and injury means he may have to settle for a place on the bench should he recover.
After his superb display against Barcelona in 2011, you could have been forgiven for thinking Wilshere would now be one of England's in-form players.
Carroll and Downing are now rebuilding their careers at West Ham, whereas Wilshere is sweating on making the plane. Barring any classic pre-tournament injury, Henderson is a certain passenger to South America.
How quickly the tables have turned.
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