Aston Villa's James Milner would have been devastated if his World Cup adventure had ended after just half an hour in Rustenburg.
The 24-year-old midfielder was handed a key role on the left in England's opening Group C clash with the United States, but was hauled off after just 31 minutes having struggled to make an impact and picked up a booking into the bargain.
It later emerged Milner had been suffering from a virus which had cost him three days' training, and he was an unused substitute as things went from bad to worse with a goalless draw against Algeria leaving Fabio Capello's men facing a battle to reach the last 16.
But the Italian kept faith and selected him once again for yesterday's decisive clash with Slovenia in Port Elizabeth, this time on the right, and the Leeds-born winger delivered just when his country needed him most.
It was he who provided the cross from which Jermain Defoe scored the game's only goal and, as he grew in confidence after a shaky start, he turned in a mature display to exorcise the ghosts of his disappointing World Cup finals debut at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
Asked how he would have felt if that had been his only contribution of the tournament, Milner replied: "Pretty devastated, to be honest.
"You want to do as well as you can - it's your first World Cup and you don't imagine your first World Cup game growing up, coming off after half an hour, so it was obviously disappointing.
"But it's about whatever is best for the team and to get a second chance, to go out and start in a big game and manage to contribute to a win was great."
Looking back at the USA game, which ended 1-1 after Robert Green's infamous blunder helped cancel out skipper Steven Gerrard's opener, gives Milner little pleasure.
However, he insists Capello was right to take him off when he did.
Milner said: "When you don't train for three days and you lose a lot of weight before a World Cup, it's obviously not great timing.
"I obviously wasn't feeling 100% and the manager, once I had been booked, thought it was the right thing for the team.
"It was disappointing for me. But it's not about how I feel - it's about what's best for England. So, at the end of the day, it was the right decision."
It was also the right decision to restore Milner to the team at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on a night when England at last appeared to have found their rhythm to establish a platform for what lies ahead.
He knows he faces a fight to keep his place in the side with Capello also having Aaron Lennon and Shaun Wright-Phillips at his disposal, but that is a challenge he is relishing.
He said: "Every player is different. I have to play to my strengths once selected. He [Capello] picks the team and he has got a good selection of wide players and a good selection of forward options in the squad, so whoever he sees fit to play in the right game, he makes that decision."
The England camp has been surrounded by rumour and speculation since John Terry's post-Algeria outburst, but order appears to have been restored.
Jamie Carragher led his team to victory in a quiz night before the party headed down to Port Elizabeth, and the offer of a beer on the eve of the game was politely declined.
The extent to which former captain David Beckham - in his role as cheerleader - was instrumental in the turnaround is unclear, but his presence in South Africa has certainly been a help to fellow midfielder Milner.
He said: "Since I have come into the squad over the last year or so, I have been in the squad with him and watching him in training.
"Before the game, he will come over and have a chat to you and say what he thinks about the game and give you the odd word.
"It's obviously fantastic to have a player of his quality and experience about the place and to give not just the wide players, but everyone a lift and a word when they need it."
Meanwhile, Milner has revealed it is not just goalkeepers who are having problems with the World Cup ball.
The former Newcastle man was quick to praise Defoe for his finish against Slovenia because of the difficulty in dealing with the Jabulani ball.
"There has been a lot of talk about keepers and defenders, but it's not easy for the strikers to get on the end of the crosses as well because the ball is moving around," said Milner.
"It was a good finish from him."