Stuart Findlay came through the ranks at Celtic but it was at Kilmarnock, under the tutelage of Scotland manager Steve Clarke, he came of age.
The defender was a key player during Clarke’s reign, one of the finest periods in the Ayrshire club’s 151-year history.
Yet even Findlay – who The Courier revealed is a transfer target for Dundee United – is acutely aware of the spectacular nature of his rise in recent years.
Once a perennial loanee, he now has eye on the international scene after blossoming into one of the Scottish Premiership’s finest central defenders.
Last summer the 24-year-old opened his heart on the debt of gratitude he owes to Killie and their supporters after being linked with a move to England.
He said: “I’m just over the moon to be a Kilmarnock player.
“Over the past two years this club have taken me from obscurity to playing the best football that I have ever played in my life and that’s got me into the Scotland international set-up as well.
“I owe everything to Kilmarnock. Those supporters mean everything to me.”
United could test his loyalties to the Rugby Park faithful this summer, with Tannadice chiefs willing to pay a substantial fee for the player who will only have a year left on his deal.
There’s even a Tangerines connection going back to his days playing football as a schoolboy – Lawrence Shankland.
The pair remain friends and Findlay couldn’t hide his delight after scoring against San Marino on his Scotland debut last October, the same evening Shankland struck on his home bow for the national side.
He said: “I’ve known Lawrence since we were little boys. We used to play against each other aged eight and nine so I’ve known him all the way through.
“I was over the moon to see him score and then to get one myself was a really special moment for the two of us.
“The two of us might not have been involved at this level not very long ago so it just shows you how quickly football can turn and I’m delighted for Lawrence.”
Findlay, born in Carmyle, Glasgow, was a standout for Wolves Boys Club before entering Celtic’s academy.
In 2009, he was among the first group of youngsters to take part in the Parkhead side’s education partnership with St Ninian’s High School in Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire.
Three years later, Findlay told The Herald: “When I was first told about the project I found it really hard to take in.
“It meant I’d be leaving behind my school friends at Trinity High School in Rutherglen and moving to a new environment.
“Once I got to St Ninian’s I made a new group of friends and also kept in touch with the old ones, so it wasn’t too much of a problem.
“I knew that it would be easier for everybody if we integrated and didn’t separate ourselves from the rest of the school.”
A number of his former team-mates have gone on to make a living in the game including Paul McMullan (United), Liam Henderson (Empoli on loan from Hellas Verona), Jackson Irvine (Hull City), Joe Thomson (Dunfermline) and Denny Johnstone (Stranraer on loan from Falkirk).
Despite captaining the Hoops U17s, Findlay left for Newcastle United in the summer of 2016 with three loans and no first-team appearances to his name.
“My time at Celtic was going a bit stale,” Findlay admitted.
“I wasn’t really getting anywhere and I was coming to a crossroads about what was going to be best for my career. It was obviously time to move on.”
Just one senior game for the Magpies followed – in an FA Cup tie against Birmingham – and it wasn’t long before he was back at Killie for a second loan spell.
His former boss McCulloch raved about his “blistering pace” and defensive partner Kirk Broadfoot has also hailed Findlay’s athletic abilities, as well as his positional nous.
The ex-Rangers right-back said: “He has all the attributes required to be a successful central defender plus he also has a lot of pace, which most players in our position don’t possess.
“In terms of his positional sense and reading the game, he can also only get better.”
Clarke, after replacing McCulloch at Rugby Park, quickly identified Findlay as a player he could trust and the former Celts kid repaid his manager’s faith in him with consistently brilliant displays at the heart of the Killie defence.
Findlay said: “I basically owe my career to Steve Clarke over the past couple of years.
“From being in and out of a struggling Kilmarnock side, to being one of the main players in a team which came third in the league.
“There is only one guy I can thank for that.”
Oxford United and Sheffield Wednesday have shown an interest in the Scotland man in recent times and there is likely to be further English interest this summer.
Can Dundee United – closing in on a return to the top flight – go toe to toe with teams north and south of the border for his signature?
It’s a question only owner Mark Ogren, sporting director Tony Asghar and manager Robbie Neilson can answer.