Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna aims to cap a stellar 12 months by lifting his first silverware at Hampden on Sunday.
This time last year the centre-back was a rookie with less than 10 starts, attempting to cement his place in the Reds side.
Now the 22-year-old is one of the hottest prospects in Scottish football and an established international.
In the summer the Dons rejected a £6.5 million bid from Aston Villa and a £3.5m move from Celtic for the defender.
Aberdeen are anticipating more interest in McKenna when the transfer window opens on January 1.
Such has been the rapid trajectory of the stopper’s career that the only thing that is missing is a trophy success.
He is determined to put that right by seeing off Celtic at Hampden on Sunday to secure the Betfred Cup.
He said: “Winning a trophy is something I have always wanted to do with Aberdeen.
“Unfortunately in recent years we have fallen that wee bit short in doing that.
“Hopefully this time we can go on and win it at Hamden.”
McKenna is set to feature in his first cup final for Aberdeen as they chase down a second trophy under boss Derek McInnes to follow up the 2014 League Cup.
A product of the Pittodrie youth system, he was at Parkhead in March 2014 to cheer on the Dons to trophy glory in a nail-biting penalty shootout win over Inverness Caley Thistle.
Aberdeen reached the League and Scottish Cup finals in 2016-17, losing both to eventual treble winners Celtic.
McKenna was on loan at lower league Ayr United – but still made the pilgrimage to the national stadium to cheer on the Reds.
This time he will be on the pitch and is determined to mark a first major final by lifting the trophy.
He said: “This is the first cup final I will actually be involved in so hopefully I can get on to the pitch and win it.
“I was there when Aberdeen won the League Cup final at Parkhead four years ago.
“For the other cup finals I was out on loan or just not near the first team.
“However, I have been at all of them and watched all of those recent cup finals.
“Having a cup final to look forward to is great.”
This summer was a “sliding door” moment for McKenna as Aberdeen rejected the £3.5m offer from Celtic for the defender.
Had Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers had his way McKenna could well have been lining up against the Reds at Hampden on Sunday.
The Dons’ board valued their prized asset at eight figures and were certainly not going to be swayed by a bid from their main domestic rival way below that figure.
Ultimately the Reds also rejected a transfer deadline-day bid from Championship Aston Villa of £6.5m as they held firm. Premier League Wolverhampton Wanderers were at Hampden to watch McKenna in the 1-0 Betfred Cup semi-final win over Rangers with a view to a potential January move.
The centre-back, as always, impressed.
It will be no surprise if there are more English top-flight teams at the national stadium on Sunday to monitor the defender.
For McKenna Sunday’s cup final will mark a rapid return to Hampden, having started in the 3-2 Nations League defeat of Israel last Tuesday.
In earning his eighth cap McKenna was key to a win that ensured Scotland topped Group C1 to secure a Euro 2020 play-off spot.
A cup final, playing for Scotland – it is all a dream come true for the defender who just 18 months ago was on loan at Ayr United and struggling to get a start with the lower league outfit.
He said: “It is crazy how quickly things can change and I am lucky enough to have been given this opportunity.
“And I think I have taken it.
“When I was at Ayr and not really playing there was maybe that disappointment, but I never got too down.
“I never get too up when I am playing well either.
“I just try to keep relatively calm and thankfully I have got to where I am now. I have a cup final coming up and was also at Hampden playing for Scotland.
“I never thought I would be in this position of playing for my country.
“I remember growing up and thinking that is the dream but it felt so far off at the time.”
McKenna has enjoyed a rapid ascent at international level in less than a year.
The 22-year-old earned his debut cap in March this year in a 1-0 friendly defeat to Costa Rica.
He has now become established as a first-choice centre-back for the Scots.
McKenna said: “Israel was my eighth cap and my third win with Scotland.
“I feel comfortable in and around the boys, that comes when you are in more and more squads.
“The more time you spend with them the more comfortable you become.
“I am looking to take on that responsibility and try to find that best personal performance so I can stay in the team.”