Less than four months ago Curtis Davies was a self-confessed "pub player", now he is living the dream one of no less than five Aston Villa players to get a call-up to new England coach Fabio Capello's new-look squad.
Davies's surprise call-up, along with that of striker Gabriel Agbonlahor, came as the Italian unveiled his candidates for Wednesday's friendly against Switzerland at Wembley.
They are joined in the initial 30-man party by team-mates Gareth Barry, Ashley Young and goalkeeper Scott Carson who were handed England debuts by Capello's predecessor, Steve McClaren.
However, there was no room for David Beckham, who had hoped to be awarded his 100th cap, while Villa midfielder Nigel ReoCoker also saw his hopes dashed.
News of the club's "Fabulous Five" will have delighted Villa manager Martin O'Neill, who has long insisted that his home-grown stars currently in fifth place in the Barclays Premier League are worthy of playing on the international stage.
His first-team squad now boasts ten English-born players with the arrival of £1.5 million midfielder Wayne Routledge this week, although the Northern Irishman has often joked that he would rather his players did not actually get on the pitch during internationals for fear of injury.
Davies, who is on a season-long loan at Villa from West Bromwich Albion with a view to a permanent deal being done at the end of the season, last night spoke of his shock at the news and revealed he had initially thought it was a practical joke.
The player, who described his first performance in a Villa shirt during the club's Carling Cup defeat to Leicester City as that of a "pub player", said: "I'm completely shocked but absolutely delighted. I wasn't thinking about it from my perspective at all.
"I thought about those who might get into their first squad, but I didn't think I'd be one of them! I'm really happy. When I got the news, I thought it was a wind-up and I had to check several times before I realised the message was genuine.
"I really didn't have a clue I'd be called up. It makes the waiting at the start of the season for a first-team chance all worthwhile. "It's nice to know I did enough to impress in that time and it's a reminder to make sure I keep doing the job at Villa.
"I just hope now I've done enough to get into the final squad when its announced at the weekend. But this is a great first step and just to know I'm in the new manager's mind is a brilliant feeling.
"Whatever happens in the next week or so, I know that my hard work is paying off because I'm part of this group."
Just last week, Davies exclusively told The Post that he didn't think he was in the running for a call-up. He said at the time: "If it happened, I would be amazed. We knew Capello had been at the Manchester United and Blackburn games but we also knew he had a lot of players to look at.
"There are sure to be some surprises. I just hope that if I can push myself into his thoughts, he might bear me in mind for the future. We are only young players at the moment in a man's game and I am sure time is on our side."
Agbonlahor was also delighted by the news. "It's brilliant to make the step up," he said.
"Everybody has been saying things about me all season but I've just tried to concentrate on playing my game. I want to keep improving and I've worked hard to get to this point. The gaffer has been great and he's never stopped encour-aging me. I feel I'm a much better player this season.
"I just hope I stay in at the weekend and the thought of joining up with a senior England squad is a tremendous honour, but I won't be taking that for granted until after the weekend."
Agbonlahor, who is Villa's top scorer so far this season with seven goals, makes the step up from the England Under 21 squad and could now make his senior debut, less than 12 months after his international career looked in jeopardy. The Birmingham-born striker was caught up in a dispute with Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce over claims that he ignored his call-up for the European Under-21 Championships in Holland last summer but O'Neill later took the blame, claiming it had been a misunderstanding.
And last night, Pearce welcomed the news, while admitting that he still wants Agbonlahor to play a major part in his long-term plans. "I hope Gabby is successful with the seniors," he said. "I also hope that in two years' time he's with the under-21s in Sweden and we win the European Championship there." nFour Birmingham-based players are in Pearce's latest Under-21 squad. Villa midfielder Craig Gardner and striker Luke Moore were recalled to the party along with Birmingham City striker Cameron Jerome and Blues defender Fabrice Muamba. The quartet will join up with the rest of the group on Sunday night, before Tuesday's friendly against the Republic of Ireland at Southampton.
Carson (Aston Villa), James (Portsmouth), Kirkland (Wigan); Bridge (Chelsea), Brown (Manchester United), A Cole (Chelsea), C Davies (Aston Villa), Ferdinand (Manchester United) G Johnson (Portsmouth), King (Tottenham), Lescott (Everton), Richards (Manchester City), Shorey (Reading), Upson (West Ham), Woodgate (Tottenham); Barry (Aston Villa), Bentley (Blackburn), Carrick (Manchester United), J Cole (Chelsea), Downing (Middlesbrough), Gerrard (Liverpool), Hargreaves (Manchester United), Jenas (Tottenham), Wright-Phillips (Chelsea), Young (Aston Villa); Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Crouch (Liverpool), Heskey (Wigan), Owen (Newcastle), Rooney (Manchester United).
* ENGLAND UNDER-21
Hart (Man City), Heaton (Man Utd), Lewis (Peterborough), Gardner (Aston Villa), Mancienne (Chelsea), Mattock (Leicester), Onuoha (Man City), Shawcross (Stoke), Taylor (Newcastle), Wheater (Middlesbrough), Cattermole (Middlesbrough), Huddlestone (Tottenham), Johnson (Middlesbrough), Lennon (Tottenham), Milner (Newcastle), Muamba (Birmingham), Noble, (West Ham), O'Hara (Tottenham), Surman (Southampton), Jerome (Birmingham), Moore (Aston Villa), Vaughan (Everton), Walcott (Arsenal).