Joe Gomez is a Premier League title winner, but the Liverpool defender admits to having had to overcome a “tough” time in 2019-20.
The 23-year-old defender proved to be a key part of Jurgen Klopp’s plans as the Reds landed a first English top-flight crown in 30 years.
After being handed a regular role by the Reds, Gomez helped to record 10 clean sheets through an 11-game run.
He started 21 of the club’s last 23 league games, with a formidable partnership struck up with Dutch centre-half Virgil van Dijk.
The England international had, however, made just one Premier League start before December and had to work hard before seeing his patience rewarded.
“It was tough,” Gomez told Liverpool’s official website.
“I mean, I never had a period probably that long whereby I was fit but not involved. But it’s part and parcel of being here and at a club of this stature.
“I had to just bide my time and keep working hard in training. It’s never easy as a player to sit out and watch from the sidelines for that sort of period of time but it’s part and parcel, like I say, of being here.
“Unfortunate things happen and players get injured, I knew it was important at that point that I had to play my part.
“Obviously we were in a good place already at that point come December, things were positive, where we were in the league. I was eager to not want to let anyone down, or just continue that level and play my part.
“It was a tough time but it helped shape me in a different way to [how] the injuries have. I had to look at myself and really dig deep, and understand I’ve got to be patient here and take it from there.”
Gomez appears to have nailed down a spot in the Reds' favoured starting XI, but accepts that he still has much to learn from the club’s coaching staff and those around him – with everyone at Anfield pulling in the same direction.
He added: “I think that’s what’s been the crucial factor in the success this year. There’s that level of accountability that everyone holds amongst each other.
“I suppose it has just naturally formed to a point where it is not taken to heart, people don’t take offence by it. You’ve got the leaders in the team – the Millies, the Hendos, the Virgils. Even one another; Robbo can have a go at me and say, ‘Come on, Joe, it’s not good enough.’
“It’s just a nice environment to be in where you can be honest and up front and say you should have done better. I have to take it on board, or lads listen. I think that’s what’s been so important this year, and that’s happened in games at times. That’s probably what’s helped us stay switched on.
“Or before games, it’s always never settling or never being satisfied or resting on our laurels. That’s what’s been so key to the consistency.”