THERE were those who feared Joleon Lescott would never kick a ball again.
Or at least that after a year out with knee problems, he would certainly not reach the heights once graced as an England under-21 international.
This season the Quinton born defender has proved the doubters wrong on both counts.
So much so, that full-time at Molineux last Sunday brought him the Supporters' Player of the Year award for the second time in three years.
Or second consecutive season in which he has been fit.
Lescott has made 43 appearances in league and cup this season.
After an understandable slightly rusty start, gradually he returned to the Lescott of old.
In reflection, he believes it was about Christmas when he was finally freed from the shackles and painful memoriesof his spell on the sidelines. "It means a lot to have achieved what I've achieved knowing I missed all of last season," he said.
"At the beginning of the season the physios said maybe I'd be looking at 20 games which was better than nothing - to be honest one would have been enough.
"So to play just above 40 has been a real bonus.
"I knew when I first came back into the team I wouldn't be as sharp as I was before.
"And at the start it probably didn't do me that much good playing two games a week.
"But looking back I think it was about Christmas time when I felt my sharpness really coming back and started to feel the injury less and less.
"So while it's been a hard season playing all those games I've really enjoyed it."
Lescott was delighted to receive the supporters' accolade, and the players he beat into second and third place, Paul Ince and Lee Naylor, believed the right man won.
"Joleon has been excellent this season," said Ince.
"It was great for him because he put so much work into his comeback .
"For people like that, who've got the hunger and desire and determination to try and get to the top, an award like this gives them the boost to kick on."
Naylor added: "No one is happier than me that Joleon won the award.
"This season he has made the game looked so easy.
"It's been a pleasure playing alongside him or even just watching him. Through his determination and love for the game Joleon came back.
"He's worked so hard on his fitness and strengthening on his knees because he still feels them after a game."
Now, perhaps understandably given his return to form, there will be speculation that one of the bigger fish from the Premiership may come knocking at Wolves' door, and only this week Arsenal were linked with possible interest.
With two years left on his contract, Wolves are in no pressure to sell, and it would take a pretty sizeable bid to even get them round a table.
The man himself is happy just to look ahead to life at Molineux, hopefully under Glenn Hoddle.
"Everyone knows the changes the manager has made and we're a well structured club now," adds Lescott.
"It was a great achievement to go 18 games unbeaten at the end of the season but because we haven't made the play-offs all the fans will be disappointed.
"But hopefully, we can continue this form next season and then we'll be in with a chance of promotion."