Former Blackpool skipper David Ferguson believes the only way is up after resurrecting his career in non-league.
The defender is now plying his trade with Darlington in the National League North having been released by the Seasiders this time last year.
Fast-forward 12 months and the 22-year-old has made it into an England shirt, albeit England C – the non-league version of the national team.
It’s the latest tick for the attacking left-back as he aims to keep forging his way back into the Football League.
Ferguson played and scored for Pool in the Championship before being handed the skipper’s armband for the disastrous League One campaign – but found himself discarded following relegation.
He joined Northern League Shildon for six months at the start of last season before Darlington came calling in January.
“Darlington have just let me play my game,” he told the Non-League Paper. “I’m an attacking player and they let me fulfil that. Martin Gray has done that, he’s a good manager, and he lets me play with freedom.
“There are some good, experienced players at Darlington. They always say to me: ‘just go and express yourself’. They let me play my game and that’s an attacking full-back. I’m still young.
“The games I’ve played at a young age, the stuff I’ve been through at a young age, it’s matured me even more.
“I’ve played 10 games in the Championship, 30 games in League One so there’s lots on my CV. But that’s football. You have your ups and downs. Now I’ve had my down, the only way is up.
“I’ve had the massive high of captaining Blackpool and then a dip in my career. But I know how to deal with stuff better now.
“There are things I would have done differently now if I was like I am now last year. You learn.”
Ferguson has another season left on his contract at Darlington, with the club then holding an option.
Talking about his recent England C call-up, Ferguson said: “I wouldn’t have thought I’d be putting an England shirt on in nine or 10 months’ time, no chance.
“England C is a great stepping stone and I can use this call-up. I’m sure people have been watching. I want to get back to where I was and push on.”