Bobby Zamora insists he is pleased he got to the top the hard way after finally earning an England cap.
The Fulham striker made his debut for the Three Lions in the friendly against Hungary early this month, coming on as a half-time substitute in the 2-1 Wembley win.
It was a far cry from the early days for striker, who did his apprenticeship at Bristol Rovers before moving to Brighton, where he achieved successive promotions from League Two to the Championship, before switching to the big-time with first Spurs, then West Ham and now the Cottagers.
But Zamora, who will lead the Fulham line against Manchester United on Sunday, insists he would not have had it any other way as it provided a unique footballing experience.
The 29-year-old told the Sunday Telegraph: "I truly loved getting here the long way round.
"There's probably not another player who has been to more grounds than me.
"It's changed a bit now because some of those that used to be in League Two have gone out of the league and new ones have come in.
"But I've played at probably every football league ground in the country - there's only a handful, maybe four or five, I haven't played at.
"To play in every division was brilliant. I wouldn't change it for the world - I'm glad I did it that way than just playing the Premier League the whole time.
"It was special to go to places like Torquay and up to Carlisle on the coach."
While Zamora made his name at Brighton - slotting home 83 goals in just 136 appearances - it took until last season to rediscover that free-scoring form when he notched 19 goals in all competitions.
The striker puts this return down to playing a lot of games as the then Fulham manager Roy Hodgson guided the Cottagers to 12th in the top flight and a Europa League final.
Zamora added: "I think simply being able to play a lot of games was the key.
"The season before it was pretty much a newly formed team. Roy had been in for half a season and then had a season of laying the foundations.
"Then last season we did justice to all the hard work the players had been doing. For me it was great: everybody knew exactly what I wanted, how I wanted the ball played to me. I knew exactly the runs other players would make.
"There was a togetherness and a willingness to work hard for each other. The performances followed."