When Jose Fonte dropped down to League One from the Championship to join Southampton in 2010 he may have been cast some anxious glances.
Yesterday he led the side to a 1-0 win at Manchester United that left the Saints third in the Premier League table with a realistic chance of qualifying for the Champions League.
With that comes a journey that has asked many questions of the Portuguese defender, but he has answered all of those questions and then some.
It all started with consecutive promotions from League One to the Championship and then from the Championship to the Premier League.
After a strong campaign under Mauricio Pochettino last season when the side finished eighth, there may have been questions as to where the Saints could go from there.
Article continues below
With Fonte at the heart of the defence throughout the whole period, he has grown in parallel to the club as it has risen to the challenge of the top-flight.
Champions League possibility
Following a strong campaign last season, a summer of upheaval followed and Ronald Koeman was brought in to steady the ship.
However, they have gone on to surpass even their most avid followers dreams by sitting third in the Premier League after a 1-0 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
That has left them dreaming of Champions League qualification next season and with that comes added responsibility for the captain.
Leading by example
Fonte signed a new contract and took the armband following the departure of Adam Lallana and it looks to be an inspired decision by Ronald Koeman.
Since the start of the season Fonte has been a rock at the heart of the Saints defence, leading by example in the tightest backline in the Premier League.
The 31-year-old's performances in the Saints' superb start to the season also led to him receiving international recognition when he received a call-up to the Portugal national team for the first time.
It culminated in his debut as he came on as a second half substitute in a 1-0 win over Argentina in November 2014.
The defender's rise from League One is just as remarkable as the one the club has been through since he joined back in 2010.
His performances have not diminished either, and he is still as key a figure now as he was back then, consistently upping his game to match those brought in around him.
Should the Saints qualify for the Champions League next season, it would be a sweet reward for Fonte and testament to the perserverance he has shown to grow in tandem with the club he serves.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms