Fulham defender Michael Hector hopes to fulfill his Premier League dream when he ends his upside-down season with a Wembley play-off final.
Hector missed the first half of the season when he moved from Chelsea for £ 8m a few days after the summer transfer window.
The Jamaican international, however, believes that this break – and Fulham – benefited in the long term when he met his new teammates on the training ground and in meeting rooms before entering the heat of the struggle for the Sky Bet championship.
Hector has been an outstanding player since then, as Fulham went up on a wembley date against London rival Brentford on Tuesday.
"It was a strange time not to sign in the summer window," said Hector, who Fulham fans compared to Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk and christened "Virgil Van Mike".
“But training with the team from September to January helped me to settle in.
"Before I was in (situations) where I had to go straight into the team and didn't find out the strengths and weaknesses of the players."
"But I could go to team meetings when I wasn't playing, and that helped me find out about my teammates."
“I watched what they did in games and looked back at the games with them. I felt like when I came in I could help them with certain aspects of the game, whether it was a little bit more or duels. "
Hector had a strange career with no less than 10 rental spells after starting at Reading and signing for Chelsea in 2015.
Aldershot, Barnet and Shrewsbury may be nondescript stops, but there were highlights along the way.
There was a play-off goal for Cheltenham and an FA Cup semi-final for Reading against Arsenal at Wembley.
And for Eintracht Frankfurt there was a German cup final in 2017 and the task of keeping Christian Pulisic and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang calm in one game was won by Borussia Dortmund 2-1.
"I loved it, the atmosphere was crazy," said Hector.
"But it's about playing the game because sometimes people can get involved and get lost in the opportunity."
"You don't really record it. If you record it, it hits you.
"Don't play the opportunity and then play well. But when I look back, it was special moments to play in Wembley and Berlin."
Hector came to Chelsea for £ 4m in 2015 but was unable to assert himself at Stamford Bridge.
In addition to Eintracht, he was loaned to Reading, Hull and Sheffield on Wednesday before embarking on the short trip through West London.
"All of my credits were learning curves," said Hector.
"I learned the hard way with certain mistakes, but it's all part of the game and I've become a better player for it."
"I didn't play in the Premier League – it wasn't with Chelsea, the team I supported and signed – and it would be a dream to do that."
"When you grew up, you make an effort and we're only 90 minutes away."
Targeting Wembley… 👀— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) August 1, 2020
Brentford ended the goal difference over Scott Parkers Fulham and finished third.
The bees also made a double in the championship against Fulham, including a 2-0 win at Craven Cottage when football resumed after the Corona virus was blocked in June.
"Brentford is a team with high scores and you have to respect that," said Hector.
“But we are confidently going into the game. With the team we have, we support each other to beat everyone that day. "