When Aziz Behich was dumped as a teenager by Melbourne Victory he had to look long and hard at his game, his attitude to being a professional and whether he wanted to dig deep and try to make it a second time.
Behich had come on as a late substitute during Victory's grand final loss on penalties to Sydney FC in the 2010 A-League decider and missed a golden opportunity late in the game. He was distraught, and many in the Victory camp felt that he never really recovered from that experience.
Then Victory coach Ernie Merrick released him not long after.
Aziz Behich had to dig deep to rebuild his career when Victory released him.
Luckily for the Socceroos, Behich is made of stern stuff: he knuckled down through a season in the then Victorian Premier League with Hume City and was thrown a lifeline by John van 't Schip, the first coach of the then Melbourne Heart.
The Dutchman signed Behich and promptly converted the left winger into a left back.
That was Australia's gain. Behich became an A-League regular and fought his way into the Australian under-23 team and then the full Socceroo squad. Now, just days out from the opening of the 2018 World Cup against France, Behich is a Socceroo regular and established first-choice left back.
Looking back on those testing days eight years ago, the 27-year-old smiles and says: ''It feels a little weird at the moment. You always have a goal, but yesterday was the first time it sunk in.
''I am pretty much at the pinnacle at the moment, at the World Cup representing my country, going out to training with some supporters cheering us on. You really don't have a chance to sit down and think about it until it's all over.
''I always had the goal I wanted to be here, but if you go back to the setback I had at Victory, sometimes you doubt yourself, but I just kept my head down and kept chasing my dream.''
Behich may well be tasked with stopping French flyer Kylian Mbappe on Saturday, but the defender, who now plays for Bursaspor in the Turkish top division, believes the Socceroos preparation under Bert van Marwijk has left him and is teammates in the best tactical and physical shape to compete against one of the best teams in the world.
'The camp in Turkey was really good, we worked really hard, the conditions in Turkey were ideal for us to get our fitness to a higher level," he says.
''Coming off two wins [against the Czech Repulbic and Hungary in friendlies] is morale boosting, and there's a lot of positives to take out of what we have been working on with the new boss.
''We have done a lot to work on in a short period of time, but to get two results and score some goals is a big positive for us.''
He is happy with the progress he has made under the Dutchman.
''I just try to improve with time. We have a new coach, new structure, new style of play so I am just trying to adapt to that. I think my form has been good.
''I am grateful that Bert has shown his faith in me in the last few games and I have started all games under him. I think I am in best career form coming off a good season with my club. My fitness is really high at the moment as well.''
Behich says all the lead up work including preparation games has been done with the France clash in mind.
'' How we played in those last two friendlies is what we want to do against France. France has been the main focus point thorughout the whole camp.
''They have got a lot of quality, there is no doubt about that, a lot of high-profile players, but at the end of the day it's a team sport. We will just focus on ourselves and take the challenges as they come.
''Growing up representing Australia was top of my list, but to do it at a World Cup would be something special. I am trying not to think too far ahead.
''We have a job to do when we get out there, and whether it's France, Denmark or Peru in front of us we want to go out there with a good performance.''
''They [the experts] always write Australia off. We know what we are capable of, we have a tight group between us, we are confident, and just by going from training we are building every day, we are becoming stronger as a team and becoming a good team.''
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