He endured an injury-marred spell in England then dropped off the Socceroos radar for years but Ruben Zadkovich has never given up hope of cementing a spot in the national fold.
Starting in Australia's East Asian Cup clash against South Korea in Seoul on Saturday, the 27-year-old made his first Socceroos appearance since his debut in 2009 in a World Cup qualifier against China.
Zadkovich had just signed with Championship side Derby County in 2008 before suffering a serious groin injury playing for the Olyroos at the Beijing Games.
He underwent three groin operations in 18 months, making just five appearances before the club cancelled his contract two years later.
He decided to come back home and signed with the Newcastle Jets, where he's remained since 2010.
But says despite the long time between drinks he never thought his Socceroos chance had past.
"I dont want it to sound arrogant or cocky, but probably not really," he said.
"Im a big believer that if you work hard and put your best foot forward for your club then the opportunity will come.
"Even though that was a long time ago, Im still only 27. I feel like I've still got some of my best football ahead of me."
Zadkovich has gone on to establish himself at the Jets, becoming captain after Jobe Wheelhouse quit the club.
But while most would lament the unfortunate timing of his injury five years ago, Zadkovich is philosophical.
"It depends how you weigh things up," he said.
"Right now I am back at a place in Australia which is a great place to live.
"I'm playing for a team that has great fans, they're very working class, blue collar, I've made myself captain of that team and I'm very proud to be captain of Newcastle.
"Now I'm back in the green and gold, so I guess things happen for a reason."
Zadkovich is also realistic about his place in the Socceroos squad but doesn't believe his chance to impress coach Holder Osier ahead of next year's World Cup hinges on his performance in South Korea.
"It may be the only time I get to put on the jersey this year," he said.
"In other camps and games Holder might choose more of the overseas-based boys and it might be harder for me to get in the squad.
"Holder's a pretty astute guy and I'm sure he's well aware that we're coming straight out of an off-season, so for him to judge us totally on what we're doing right now probably wouldn't be just and I think he knows that.
"He would have watched us a lot last year and he'll continue to watch us this year."