Shamrock Rovers star Jack Byrne has revealed that the early disappointments suffered by a number of his fellow Republic of Ireland squad members has served as an inspiration to him as he bids to realise his own ambitions in the game.
Highly touted from a young age, Byrne moved to Manchester City as a 15-year-old and impressed in the Premier League champions' youth set-up.
The attacking midfielder then made a loan move to Cambuur in the top flight of Dutch football before returning to Britain, where spells with Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic, Oldham and Kilmarnock followed.
Since signing with Shamrock Rovers at the end of last year, the 23-year-old has seen a marked revival in his fortunes, with an international debut against Bulgaria at the Viva Stadium on Tuesday night now a distinct possibility.
"I feel as if I've played good football most of the places I’ve been at," Byrne said ahead of the friendly encounter.
"Sometimes my face didn’t fit in certain places, which is fine. That’s football.
"You move on, you take it on the chin, you dust yourself down and you go again."
Byrne cited Conor Hourihane as a player whose football fortunes oscillated wildly before making his way to the Premier League with Aston Villa and breaking through with Ireland’s senior side.
"Look at the likes of Conor Hourihane, who dropped down the leagues and worked his way back up," Byrne said.
"He’s now playing in the Premier League. Everybody’s route is different, a lot of the players in the squad have played in the League of Ireland as well. Everybody’s route is different and I’m working my back to hopefully getting to a good level soon and I feel as if I’m on the right track.
"I’m not trying to think too far ahead. I’m just trying to take it each day as it comes."
Byrne also admitted to loving being back in his native Dublin.
"I never really had off-the-field issues," he said. "It was more the boredom and trying to fill time. It’s a lot easier when you’re back home and you’re around your family."
Many pundits believe Byrne will feature at some stage over the course of the evening, but the man himself is keen to keep his feet on the ground.
"I’m trying not to think about it too much," he admitted.
"You never know what will happen during the game, but it would be a dream come true if it did happen and hopefully I could do myself justice.
"It would be an unbelievable honour and probably the proudest day of my life."
Byrne spoke in glowing terms of his first taste of life in the senior squad, even if he did confess to disappointment at missing out on a place in the 23-man match-day squad to face Switzerland.
"Training has been going well and I think you could see that the lads were well-drilled going into the game against Switzerland, who are obviously a top side," he said.
"I was disappointed (to miss out), but I’m a fan first and foremost of the Irish team.
"It was an unbelievable honour to be involved in such a big game and be in the dressing room before, and training all week, and in the dressing room after and seeing how happy everyone was, it gave me a good incentive to try and do well and hopefully get there one day.
"I feel a part of it the lads have made me feel a part of it.
"I understand the level they are playing out is probably a lot higher than the level I’m playing at and I respect that.
"When they’re giving me advice, I try and listen and try and learn.
"I don’t feel out of place because everybody has been so good to me and they have looked after me.
"I’m really happy with how it’s gone."
While all too aware of the improvement needed to step up from the League of Ireland to the international stage, Byrne believes that having players who ply their trade on these shores in the squad is beneficial to Irish football.
"I think it’s good for the league to have somebody in the squad," he enthused.
"Hopefully the young players around the league are looking up and seeing that there is a pathway there."
Follow Republic of Ireland v Bulgaria via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app, watch on RTÉ2 or listen to live radio commentary on RTÉ 2fm's Game On.