When Chelsea offloaded Nemanja Matic to Benfica in 2011, it was expected that Stamford Bridge had seen the last of the Serbian midfielder.
After all, he was so far down the pecking order that he was allowed to move on as part of a deal which brought David Luiz to England.
How times change.
Chelsea finally ran out of patience with Luiz over the summer and have instead seen Matic emerge as a integral cog in Jose Mourinho’s Premier League title-chasing machine.
The combative 26-year-old was re-signed in January for £21 million, proving that second chances can be secured if you are prepared to work hard enough on your game.
Matic has done just that, with two-and-a-half years in Portugal helping to mould him into one of European football’s finest holding midfielders.
He concedes that he is a better player now than the one which left Chelsea without really registering on the Blues’ first-team radar, and has also warned his rivals that there is more to come from him and his current employers.
On the role he is being asked to fill and the chances of him ending the 2014/15 campaign with multiple major honours, Matic told Sky Sports News: “Jose makes it clear what I have to do before every game. Some moments he doesn’t have to say anything, he just looks at me and I know what I have to do.
“The players that play in front of me, they are amazing in that position. Defensive midfielder is my position and I have to just focus on that role. I have to do everything to help them score many goals.
“I played in Portugal and also fought there for the title. We played in the Champions League, we played in the final of the Europa League and these games made me a better player. I feel on a higher level but I will also improve.
“The most important thing is that we play very well, not only me. Can we do something special? We will see in the end.”
Matic has been in sparkling form this season, with Mourinho branding him a ‘monster’ for the manner in which he goes about dominating Premier League and Champions League opponents.
He is looking like one of Chelsea’s finest signings in recent seasons, with it easy to argue that he is more important to the collective cause than the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard.
Not since the days of Claude Makelele, during Mourinho’s first spell at the helm, have the Blues had someone capable of controlling proceedings in front of the back four.
They have now found that missing piece in Matic and you get the feeling that something ‘special’ is brewing in west London.