Fabian Delph is now 22, if he had realised his potential and had better luck with injuries he would be in Ukraine and Poland right now with the England squad.
He broke into the first team at Leeds United age just 17, and quickly earned plaudits for his performances in central midfield.
The problem for Leeds at the time was they were stuck down in League One, and their finances left them vulnerable to a big bid; Tottenham, Newcastle and Manchester United were all interested.
When Aston Villa snapped him up it seemed like a terrific bit of business by Martin O'Neill, a no-brainer signing one of England's top young talents for just £6 million.
Right now it is looking like Villa overpaid, as they are yet to see anything but glimpses of their investment.
Jumping straight into first team football in the Premier League proved a tough ask for Delph, who failed to impose himself. He went straight into the team, but it was a chastening debut, losing 2-0 at home to surprise package Wigan Athletic. It didn't get any easier in his debut season and he soon lost his place in the side.
At the end of the campaign a tale of injury woe began for the Bradford born midfielder. He suffered cruciate knee ligament in April 2010 and didn't play again until the following February. It meant his second season at Villa, one which he was hoping to step up and learn from the first, became almost a write-off.
In the time elapsed, Villa have become a changed club. Three different permanent managers have taken charge, and the club have gone from battling for a Champions League place to fighting off relegation.
Last season under McLeish provided no place for Delph to find his feet, and he was sent back on loan to Leeds in January before picking up a season ending ankle injury a month later.
Supporters hope that Paul Lambert will bring stability to Villa, and Delph, he just needs some better luck. Lambert will build a platform for Villa to do better, and this will in turn make it easier for Delph to find his feet.
He can hide behind injuries as an excuse to a point, but there is no escaping the fact that he is yet to truly impress in the opportunities he has been given. Delph will hope he can surprise a few people this season by both staying fit and showing what he is all about.
It is time, Villa can't wait forever, and he will not want to be seen as a player who didn't live up to his potential.
Can Delph make it? Will he get the chances at Villa next season?
image: © Ben Sutherland