Matthew Upson has vowed to put his injury nightmare behind him and become an England regular under Fabio Capello.
Upson was dogged by fitness problems during his last 12 months at Birmingham and experienced similar setbacks during the early part of his spell with West Ham.
But the former Arsenal defender was rewarded for some impressive performances for the Hammers this season by being picked for Capello's first match against Switzerland at Wembley last night.
It was Upson's first England start since a friendly against Denmark in November 2003.
He said: 'It is great to be back in an England shirt.
'I really enjoyed the experience, not only the game but the two days training was fantastic and I've come away learning a lot and am hopefully becoming a better player.
'I was shocked to get the call but in the back of my mind I feel I've been on a good run of form and been the fittest I've been in my life.
'I've got a real high belief and confidence at the moment. It was a surprise but part of me thought I've worked hard to get it and I deserve it.
'To be picked for the new manager's first game in charge is very important to me. It's been an opportunity handed to me and I want to grab it with both hands.
'I'm working as hard as I ever have, I'm as hungry and as focused as I've ever been and I just want to grab this chance.
'I can do what I do myself and control what I can control. Those things are my training and my performances and I am going to make sure I improve those and maintain those every week.'
Upson points to a strict fitness regime for helping him to reclaim a spot in the England squad.
He said: 'I am doing lots of extra work and making sure my fitness is as good as it can be ad my body is as strong as it can be.
'It is important for me given the injuries I've had that I keep on top of that and keep striving to get better. It is working very well at the moment.
'I've sacrificed a lot to get to this position and I'm willing to do what it takes. I'm so hungry to succeed and want to do well.
'I want to play for England, I want to play in a World Cup, I want to do all these things and your career is very short. I've really worked hard and applied myself and I will keep doing that and want to improve and learn every day.
'You have ups and downs in life. I'm coming out of a low point with the bad injuries and finding my feet again and becoming the best player I can possibly be and, at the moment, I feel I'm in my best form.'
Upson has been impressed with Capello in the short time he has worked with the former Real Madrid boss.
He said: 'Fabio gets his point across on the training pitch. He is very direct and easy to understand.
'We have been doing different things, in terms of defending especially. We did a really good session on defending, about tying up players in the box with positional work which the manager and his coaches are expert at.
'It is very interesting to hear what they've got to say and what they want from us in different situations. It is very different to what we've done before.
'It is a different viewpoint but you are working with someone who has worked with some of the best back fours in the world.'