Shay Given is delighted to have broken free of his Manchester City shackles and believes his best is yet to come.
The experienced goalkeeper endured a frustrating 2010/11 campaign, with a wasted season spent watching on from the sidelines as Joe Hart nailed down the number one jersey at City.
Unable to move on and unlikely to force his way back into the side, Given was forced to focus his attention on international outings for the Republic of Ireland.
He is, however, now looking forward to domestic duty with renewed optimism after securing a switch to Aston Villa.
At the age of 35 he is a seasoned Premier League performer of some repute, but he claims he still has plenty of room for improvement and is looking forward to reasserting himself on the top flight stage.
"Yes, it was difficult last season at City," Given told the Daily Star Sunday.
"I was going to the gym, doing the work while knowing there was nothing for me at the end of the week.
"What kept me going was that I had big games with Ireland. That gave me a little carrot once a month.
"Hopefully, I have still got my best years ahead of me. That's the plan. Arguably, Edwin van der Sar had the best season of his whole career last year with (Manchester) United.
"It's all about working hard and improving and I have never been afraid of hard work."