Anthony Le Tallec feels he has only just got his career back on track following a frustrating spell at Liverpool.
The former France U21 international was snapped up by the Reds in 2001 as a teenage talent tipped for the very top.
However, things did not go entirely to plan for him at Anfield and he spent much of the next seven years out on loan.
Spells at former employers Le Havre, St Etienne, Sunderland, Sochaux and Le Mans allowed him to enjoy first-team football, but stunted his progress.
It was only after he joined Le Mans on a permanent deal in 2008 that he began to flourish once more.
Having been able to showcase his considerable talent on a regular basis, he was signed by Ligue 1 giants Auxerre this summer.
Le Tallec is now looking forward to the prospect of gracing the UEFA Champions League, in Tuesday's play-off against Zenit St Petersburg, but admits he may have got to that level sooner had he never joined Liverpool.
"Everything started well for me at Liverpool but, unfortunately, the arrival of Rafa Benitez broke my entire career strategy," the 25-year-old told L'Equipe.
"Even though I was able to get experience, I lost about four years.
"I arrived at Liverpool as an 18-year-old, but then had to join clubs that were, not weaker, but less rated. It was strange and sometimes it was difficult.
"What saved me was my passion for football. I have also never lost faith in my ability.
"We can say that a new career has started for me at Auxerre, even it has not been a typical run to get here.
"I am very happy to be playing in the Champions League again, even if it is just in the play-offs. I was so frustrated at having to watch it on TV."