Celtic winger Scott Sinclair believes winning the PFA Scotland player of the year award is further evidence that his personal sacrifices through difficult times were worth it.
This time last year, Sinclair was playing his final few games for an Aston Villa side which had been relegated from the Premier League in mid-April.
His disappointing spell in the midlands had come after a big-money move from Swansea to Manchester City failed to work out, making just three starts for a team filled with expensive talents.
But a reunion with Brendan Rodgers, who coached him at Chelsea and Swansea, has rejuvenated his career and his life.
Sinclair has scored 25 goals for the Hoops, who remain unbeaten in domestic football, and is one game away from a treble after appearing in the Champions League group stages.
The 28-year-old beat strong opposition for the player of the year prize from team-mates Stuart Armstrong and Moussa Dembele, as well as Aberdeen winger Jonny Hayes.
And the recognition has reaffirmed his belief that hard work and resilience are the keys to success.
Sinclair said: “It goes to show, when you have gone through so much tough times in your career of not playing, getting relegated, I was one who was staying behind training and still did things at home.
“And, looking back now, it was all worth it. If I could give any advice to any young players out there, it would be to never give up.
“People are always going to pull you down and say you are not good enough, but the main thing is on a personal level that I kept going and never gave up, and I am getting my rewards for it.
“As a professional, that’s what is instilled in me, to never give up. I had so many years of not playing and to get relegated, it’s been so tough.
“I could have stayed down in England and enjoyed my life and had it nice and cosy. But I didn’t want that. I wanted much more.
“And I think that’s what I am always going to be like throughout my career, always giving more, wanting to play football and wanting to play week in, week out, and that’s what I am doing now.”
Sinclair’s Celtic career got off to a flying start last August with a late winner off the bench against Hearts hours after completing his transfer, and it continued to go from strength to strength.
“The main thing for me was to come up here and enjoy my football again and get that happiness back into my life of playing week in, week out and having a manager who believes in me,” he said.
“I couldn’t have asked for much more and to get player of the year is a special feeling. It’s a great honour, especially being voted by your fellow professionals who you play against week in, week out.
“To be honest, this first season I didn’t really set many (targets).The most important for me was to get my football back on track and get that enjoyment back. And now I have, I will sit down when the season is finished and look back and look at what ways to improve.”
Sinclair insists that is a possibility despite the heights of this season.
“When the season finishes I always look back and see how well I have done and how the team has done, and think how I can improve,” he said. “There is always room for improvement. It will just be slight changes of movements, maybe getting in the box more, just things like that to come back much better.
“As long as this squad sticks together, we go into next season and hopefully progress into the Champions League and do better than we did this season. There is always room for improvement.”