Peter Crouch, who may justifiably feel he was never given a chance in an Aston Villa shirt, last night declared he had earned the right to be taken seriously as a striker.
Refusing to dwell on the past, he is looking forward to his first competitive start for England in tomorrow's World Cup qualifier against Austria.
Crouch has not scored since May 7, having failed to find the net in his first eight games for Liverpool, but is still set to replace the suspended Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford.
Just 15 months ago, he was sold by Villa to Southampton for £2 million - less than half his price-tag two years earlier after just six goals in 43 games - as David O'Leary failed to see his potential.
Some sceptics mocked his gangly 6ft 7in frame by comparing him to Rodney Trotter from the TV show Only Fools and Horses.
However, Crouch believes his 16 goals for Southampton last season, coupled with his £7 million summer move to Liverpool, which led to Champions League experience and an England call-up, prove he is more than just a target-man.
He declared: "I think people are starting to take me seriously now. When I first started out, I was a unique player. Maybe people thought they just had to bang the ball up to me or whatever.
"But now people are starting to realise and, the more games you play, the more you can show people what you can do."
Indeed Crouch, despite his stature, appeared more adept with the ball at his feet rather than in the air. He has a deft pass and is able to turn on his heels quickly.
"The more I've played, the more people have taken me seriously," he said.
"Now I've started to play for England and at a great club like Liverpool, hopefully people can see that I can play on the floor as well."
Crouch's failure to score for Liverpool, albeit with injury having delayed his start to the season, is discounted as a cause for concern ahead of tomorrow's game.
The striker believes playing up front alongside Michael Owen, who returned to full training yesterday to dispel injury worries, could suit him more than acting as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation.
"When you're playing up front on your own, sometimes it limits your chances of scoring goals a little bit," he admitted. "But playing up front with someone of Michael's calibre should help my game and hopefully I can help his game as well." Crouch, 24, will certainly benefit from David Beckham's presence on the right flank, with the England captain also having trained for the first time yesterday after joining up late with the squad due to his son's illness.
The presence of both Owen and Beckham in training ended Sven-G^ran Eriksson's injury worries for the game, with Rio Ferdinand and John Terry hoping to hold off the challenge of Sol Campbell at centre-back.
Jamie Carragher and Luke Young are set to be at fullback in the absence of Ashley Cole and Gary Neville through injury, with Joe Cole on the left flank and Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in central midfield.
Crouch, meanwhile, helped Owen to a hat-trick in his only previous appearance for England in the post-season tour game against Colombia in New Jersey.
"I did reasonably well out in America and I felt comfortable at that level. There's a place available and hopefully I'm the one to fill it but there are some good strikers here as well," he added.
If Crouch does seize his chance in Rooney's absence and England qualify for the World Cup finals, he knows there is at least one spot in the squad up for grabs.
However, while Jermain Defoe is seen as Owen's understudy and Rooney is assured of his place, Crouch hopes he can offer England a completely different option.
"You look at the good strikers we've got - Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe and Darren Bent. They're all sharper, smaller and quicker players but I'm definitely a different option that we could use," he stressed.
"This is a massive opportunity. If you can impress in these games, then you've got a good chance of being involved at the World Cup.
"I've only played one game so far, out in the States, but I really enjoyed that and I've played a couple of games in the Champions League.
"I've always had belief that I could play at this level. At times, it was difficult when I was starting out but I feel really confident now.
"I'm playing for a great club and being called up by England, I'm feeling at my best now. Hopefully I can show that."