If any footballer in the country had cause to be labelled the "forgotten man", surely it must have been Birmingham City goalkeeper Nico Vaesen.
Until he replaced Maik Taylor at the Stadium of Light for Saturday's bottomofthe-table showdown with Sunderland, Vaesen had not started a league match for Blues in more than two-anda-half years.
It was March 2003 at Villa Park, of all places, when Vaesen last lined up for Blues in the Premiership.
In an already extremely incident-packed derby, a very happy night for Blues ended miserably for Vaesen who damaged his knee ligaments attempting to take a goal kick. Geoff Horsfield, the scorer of Blues' second goal, had to take over in between the posts and Vaesen did not play again that season.
In fact, it was the turn of the year before he saw action again, in the first of three First Division loan spells that took him to Gillingham, followed by Bradford City and a promotion-winning experience at Crystal Palace.
In the meantime, Taylor had become established as Blues' No 1, performing so consistently well that the now fully-fit Vaesen has not had a sniff. But Taylor's two errors in Blues' successive one-goal defeats to Everton and Newcastle United persuaded Blues manager Steve Bruce that a change might be in order.
That would have come at St Andrew's last Monday night had fog not intervened. But, when the threatened snow stayed away from the Stadium of Light on Saturday, Vaesen ensured Blues' first clean sheet since the first day of the season. Even at 36 (still young in goalkeeping terms), Vaesen is looking only to the future. He said: "Hopefully this will be a platform for us for the rest of the season.
"After the League Cup game against Millwall on Tuesday night, we have two massive home games ahead of us against West Ham and Fulham.
"Before this game we had looked at a target of eight or nine points from the four games ahead of us and, in that respect, we're on our way.
"Everybody was low on confidence after losing five on the bounce. People get a bit stressed and tense and don't get into their real game.
"At Newcastle we felt it was coming but now against Sunderland we've got what we should have taken at Newcastle. And there is a very good feeling in the dressingroom that this can start our season off."
Vaesen is also aware that Saturday's game could prove to be a launch-pad. He sympathises with good friend and training colleague Taylor.
"While I'm back in the team," Vaesen said, "I also feel for Maik as he's had a terrific last two years for this club and it must be painful for him. I have no doubt he'll be back. But he realises the same as I do that you have to take your chance when it comes. And the competition keeps us on our toes and pushes each other to see who stays in the team." Vaesen knew he was in line for a recall during preparations for last Monday night's game with Bolton. But, after his wait to get back in the team - other than this season's two Carling Cup appearances - another five days was not going to worry him.
He said: "It was last Sunday morning, when we doing some tactical work, that it became clear I was going to be playing. And I was more tense than maybe I am normally knowing I'd be playing.
"But I've been looking forward to this day ever since I got injured and, once I got my first good catch, that settled me down.
"I've had to be very patient and it was something that kept me going all the way through my 'rehab', just thinking about the chance of one day playing in the Premiership again. But the most important thing was not just to come back but to get a win."