Sydney FC's Ivan Necevski has vowed to hang on to his spot for dear life after waiting for what must have felt like an eternity to establish himself as the club's first-choice goalkeeper.
Necevski, 32, joined the Sky Blues at the start of 2007-2008 from Newcastle Jets but was forced to play a secondary role behind Clint Bolton and Liam Reddy for five long seasons.
Necevski is seen as the club's top goalkeeper this season and he repaid the faith shown in him by coach Ian Crook with a commanding performance in Sydney's first league match against Wellington Phoenix at the weekend.
The Sky Blues lost 2-0 yet without his assured presence between the sticks their defeat could have been heavier.
"I'm not giving up my spot, that's for sure," Necevski said after training for the match against Newcastle on Saturday.
"I've worked hard for my spot and now I've got to keep it.
"I've got young Vedran [Janjetovic] breathing down my neck, wanting a chance.
"I was in his shoes exactly six years ago, going to Newcastle from Blacktown City.
"It has been very, very tough mentally not to be given many chances to play here but I've always considered myself to be No. 1.
"I've known I'm good enough to be the No. 1 for a number of years.
"As soon as I came to the club I was looking for the No. 1 spot.
"If you come to a club thinking you are going to be a reserve you're in the wrong frame of mind.
"This is my sixth year at the club and I never thought of myself as a back-up keeper and I train as if I am going to play at the weekend.
"Mentally as a 'reserve' keeper you've got to be patient and remain switched on because you can get thrown in at any stage of a game.
"You just can't afford to write yourself off because if you do that who's going to give you a chance?
"This year I have the No. 1 on my back but that does not mean anything to me because I made myself the No.1 last year wearing the No. 20.
"Being the starting goalkeeper this season does not guarantee you anything.
"There is always pressure to perform because football is a funny game "¦ things change overnight and you can be out as quickly as you are in.
"Everybody makes mistakes but it's how you react and pick yourself up that is most important."
Necevski said he was grateful to Sydney's goalkeeper coach Zeljko Kalac for giving him advice and encouragement during those dark and difficult days when he did not know where his next game was coming from.
Kalac spent many years as an understudy to Mark Schwarzer at Socceroos level and knew exactly how Necevski was feeling as a bench-warmer.
"Spider's been really good coming to the club," he said.
"He's introduced a European type of training for goalkeepers who are now expected to be the last man in defence or a spare man at the back with the ball skills to match.
"Spider has spoken to me when I wasn't playing and told me to 'keep training hard, keep training hard and be patient, be patient'."
Necevski conceded that at one stage he even contemplated leaving his home-town club in order to get more game time.
"I had two or three offers from A-League clubs and one from overseas," Necevski said.
"But to be honest I don't think Australian clubs have the facilities and the level of professionalism we have here.
"Also to be coached by Kalac, John Filan and Jim Fraser is a privilege.
"That is one of the reasons I wanted to stay.
"I also had a young family to consider and a move away would have been too disruptive."