Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson admits his career is a far cry away from what it was this time last year.
After signing for Portsmouth in September 2009, the 27-year-old was forced to sit on the sidelines as financial struggles meant Pompey could not afford to play him.
The eventually relegated club would have owed money to Williamson's former club Watford had he played a significant part, paving the way for his January 2010 move to the Magpies.
The centre-half has since become a big player at the club and this month signed a new five-and-a-half year and he is honoured to be plying his trade in the top flight.
"I don't think many players would have turned down the chance to be taking on the likes of Arsenal and Man United in the Premier League," he told the Chronical.
"They are all big occasions for a player. So it is very much living the dream.
"I had difficult times last year at Portsmouth but I was told if I keep working hard good things can happen.
"That's what I did, it is a big contrast to this time last year.
"It is great playing in front of packed houses at home and seeing so many fans travelling on away games."
Williamson was part of the side which thumped North-East rivals Sunderland 5-1 in October and he was overwhelmed by the reception he received in the aftermath.
"The atmosphere up here is a reminder of what the rivalry is like and when everybody is talking about it," he said of the derby.
"When we beat Sunderland last time a lot of people were coming up to me in the street and thanking me.
"Even the guy who helped me move house was saying that we probably didn't realise what we'd done for the city.
"It was nice but the aim is to keep pushing on for the highest position possible."