By his own admittance, Kieran Freeman had doubts about whether he’d ever have a moment like Wednesday night – scoring his first Dundee United goal.
The right-back got United’s fifth in their 6-1 Premier Sports Cup Group B drubbing of Elgin City at Tannadice – and has notched three assists so far in the competition.
Freeman re-joined the club last year after initially leaving Tannadice for Southampton’s academy as a 16-year-old in 2016.
A series of gruesome knee injuries held him back at St Mary’s and left the 21-year-old questioning whether he’d ever ‘make it’.
Now, however, after getting his chance in the team due to starter Liam Smith suffering a knee knock of his own, the Aberdonian – affectionately known as Sheep – is aiming for more memorable moments in tangerine.
‘It’s been a journey to get here but I’ve done nothing’
Asked if his goal means more after what he’s been through, Freeman said: “I suppose it probably does.
“There’s been times where you think: ‘How am I ever going to get back?’
“That’s just in the moment and you have to get yourself right back into it.
“It’s been a journey to get here but I’ve done nothing. I want to do so much more than this.
“I’ve played in a few pre-season and cup games and, obviously, they mean a bit but I want to play in the big games.
“It’s never nice when one of your team-mates get injured but when you get the jersey you’ve got to try to do your best.
“I’ve got a few assists and a goal at least, so I’m happy with that.
“The lads will know that I’m horrific at shooting usually so I’m surprised (Lawrence) Shankland passed it in!
“It was a good lay-off and I just tried to hit it low and hard and, thankfully, it went in.
“It was going wide right up until the last second.”
Freeman ‘stronger’ and not taking chance for granted
Lifting the lid further on his injury hell, Freeman admits he’s got a new lease of life after realising anything that happens on the pitch pales into comparison with what he’s suffered.
He continued: “When injuries happen again and again, it’s easy to doubt yourself.
“When you’ve been out for a year, you come back and within a few weeks you do it again, you just automatically think that way.
“You get through it, though, and I’m here now.
“I’m a stronger player now and I don’t take it for granted when I step over the line.
“I just enjoy playing football. It’s the best thing.
“Making a mistake on the pitch is nothing compared to not being able to kick a ball for 12 months.
“That’s when you realise what really matters in life.
“I try to play without fear and it helps when you’ve got the quality on the pitch up front that we have.”
Peterhead spell ‘incredible’
Freeman spent last season on loan at Peterhead, working under United hero Jim McInally.
He was grateful for his time spent with the Blue Toon as he re-discovered his love for the game.
He added: “Playing under Jim McInally was incredible really.
“He would play me any position and give me the trust to go out and play football.
“I’d never played week in, week out for about four years so just to do that, wake up on a Saturday and have that feeling was good.
“It makes you more grateful for what you have.
“At 16 I thought it was just you go up and up and up but, obviously, I got hit with a reality check and now I know what life’s like.
“There’s ups and downs, I won’t get too high or too low.”