Shane Warne began his final Ashes series in England as the main target of the crowd's abuse and ended it as an unlikely hero given a standing ovation by a rousing and partisan Oval support.
Heckled at every moment during the early part of Australia's tour this summer, the sell-out crowds eventually warmed to the greatest spin bowler in the history of the game as he made his farewell Test tour of this country.
His determination to maintain Australia's possession of the Ashes, which they had held since 1989, earned the begrudging respect of even the most biased of England cricket followers.
Warne's monumental effort on the final day at The Oval, bowling 31 overs unchanged from the Vauxhall End before returning to finish off the innings, was the performance of a great champion.
To finish with six for 124 in the second innings and 12 wickets in the match was not quite the "finishing on a high" he had envisaged before the match, particularly as he was a member of the Australian side that lost the Ashes, but it was still a mesmerising display.
He has finished with 40 wickets in a series and still finished on the losing side and still found time to run across to man-of-the-match Kevin Pietersen and congratulate him on his innings of 158, which effectively sealed England's 2-1 series triumph.
Due to celebrate his 36th birthday today, Warne also indulged in some healthy banter with the crowd.
Unfortunately, from Australia's point of view, it was Warne's dropped catch in the slips off Brett Lee, when Pietersen had scored just 15, which proved the turning point of the final day.
In the next over, Pietersen made sure Warne, his captain at Hampshire, was aware of the consequences of his error by launching him for two sixes over mid-wicket en route to his maiden Test century.
By the time Warne wearily took his hat from umpire Rudi Koertzen after his marathon afternoon stint, he had accepted the fact he was now going to become the pantomime villain for the day.
Regular chants of " Warney's dropped the Ashes", which usually followed the cruel replaying of his missed chance on the big screens, were greeted with a simple shrug or a simple nod to the crowd.
Fittingly, he returned to the attack and finished off England's innings with two wickets in three balls and walked off with colleague Glenn McGrath, who was also playing his last Test in England, to a warm ovation.
The only recognition of the stranglehold he has enjoyed over England's batsman ever since the "wonder-ball" to Mike Gatting at Old Trafford in 1993 - his first Ashes delivery - was a trademark smile and lifting his battered old sun-hat to the crowd.
It was a fitting finale to cricket's leading wickettaker and the greatest spin bowler that ever lived. England will just be grateful his retirement is sooner rather than later.