Considering Peter Crouch spent most of his time at Aston Villa either on the bench or in the reserves, it is understandable that the striker is anxious to do well tomorrow when Southampton host David O'Leary's side in the Premiership.
It is not in the 23-yearold's nature to rant and rave about the lack of first-team opportunities he had to put up with at Villa following his £5 million move from Portsmouth in March 2002.
But after making just 20 league starts before being sold to Saints last summer for £2million, Crouch rightly feels Villa supporters never saw the best of him.
The striker occasionally appeared in the side as a replacement for either Darius Vassell or Juan Pablo Angel --usually performing admirably - but manager O'Leary never kept Crouch in the team ahead of his first-choice forwards.
It was no surprise when Crouch was offloaded, but the 6ft 7in forward has blossomed at Southampton following James Beattie's sale to Everton in January.
Indeed, Crouch's 13 goals for Harry Redknapp's side this term have given Saints a real chance of avoiding relegation.
However, the south-coast club remain desperate for points as they are 18th and Crouch is anxious to profit at Villa's expense tomorrow.
"I'd love to get one over them,"said Crouch. "When people are knocking you and saying you're not going to be a Premiership player, it spurs you on to become one.
"The most frustrating thing while I was up there was knowing that, even if I did well, if someone was fit the next week I'd be out.
"I didn't think I was going to play. It's one of those things, David O'Leary just fancied other players, that was the way it was and Angel had a great season last year.
" It was frustrating, because I felt I had warranted chances when I came into the side. I was scoring goals towards the end of last season and playing well but, as soon as someone came back from injury, they were straight in the side.
"Although I wasn't playing and it was difficult at times, I had a lot of friends up in Birmingham and everyone was good to me up there.
"I always felt that when I came in I did a good job but when Graham Taylor left and David O'Leary came in, he wanted to bring in his own players.
"O'Leary's done a good job there, though, he's taken them to higher in the league table and I've got no grudges.
"The fans never turned on me or anything like that, they were always good to me so that helps.
"I got a good reception there on the first day of the season with Southampton, so I certainly won't be rubbing their noses in it if we do well tomorrow."
Crouch has retained some links with Villa through his friendship with Lee Hendrie, Jlloyd Samuel and Gareth Barry, with whom he remains in contact.
And although tenth-placed Villa still hope to qualify for Europe, Crouch says tomorrow's match is much more important to his side.
He added: "I still speak to a couple of the lads there, so obviously I'll be having words with them - I'll just have to tell them we need the points more than they do!"
Despite Southampton's plight, the affable Crouch is enjoying his football more than ever and it is easy to understand why after over two years on the periphery at Villa.
Redknapp has made Crouch his first-choice striker ahead of Kevin Phillips - a player O'Leary is keen to sign - and on-oan Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Henri Camara.
Crouch's recent form has been so impressive that some pundits are even tipping him for an England call-up.
O'Leary will probably scoff at that suggestion, but Crouch has, at the very least, proved he is Premiership material after finally being a chance to shine in the top-flight.
"This is the first run of games I've really had in the Premiership," said Crouch. "I always felt confident that, given a run in the team, I'd do well - I just hope we can stay up."
Villa supporters will no doubt wish the striker they dubbed Rodney Trotter well - as long he doesn't have a laugh at their expense tomorrow. n Goals by Carlton Cole and Luke Moore saw Aston Villa reserves to a 2-1 victory over a very youthful Nottingham Forest side in an FA Premier Reserve League game at The City Ground last night.
All the goals came in the second half after Forest's enthusiasm had given them the edge in the opening period of a game which saw Gavin
McCann get another 48 minutes of play under his belt.
Cole opened the scoring nine minutes after the break when he got the better of Justyn Roberts before rifling the ball home but Forest bounced back with an equaliser two minutes later from James Beaumont.
Villa snatched the winner in the 65th minute when Luke Moore shot home through a crowded box.