Stephen McManus admits he is 'pinching' himself when he reflects on the progress of his career in recent seasons.
The defender did not make his Celtic debut until the age of 21, but is now captain of the SPL champions.
He will also skipper the Scotland team for the first time in Wednesday's friendly with Croatia and McManus is delighted with the upward curve of his career.
"I'm pinching myself," he said.
"I've now played a lot of football in the last three years, but I'm not one for talking things up, I'd never do that.
"Let's just say I've worked hard and it has gone all right so far. I've been fortunate that my career has gone in the right direction, but you can never get too ahead of yourself.
"I still look at myself as being the same guy I was five years ago when I wasn't getting a game.
"I go into work every day trying to make myself a better player, and every season I try to improve."
During his early struggles to break into the Celtic team, McManus concedes he considered quitting the club, but is thankful he decided to stay put.
Being the best
He added: "I was in a really good reserve side at Celtic and the club at that time were a top, top side.
"We had guys like Henrik Larsson in the team, guys who were at the peak of their careers.
"At the time I just wanted to play. It wasn't about money or fame - it was about becoming the best player that you can be.
"I felt that maybe my future lay elsewhere, just so that I could play in someone's first team.
"But, thankfully, I stayed at Celtic and it has turned out not too bad.
"At the time I decided to talk to a few people who were a lot more knowledgeable than me, to people who had been there and done it.
"And the advice I got was to stick at it with Celtic because you never know what's round the corner."