England's Jake Livermore feared that he would never play again after failing a drugs test in the aftermath of his son's death in 2014.
Livermore was with Hull City when the tragedy struck and he took cocaine to help deal with the grief, which led to a suspension.
However, when the Football Association learned of the circumstances, no further action was taken.
Still the whole episode left Livermore a long way from contemplating a return to playing and the thought of adding to the solitary international cap he had won in 2012 never crossed his mind.
But on Wednesday the West Brom midfielder started in the friendly defeat against Germany to complete a remarkable turnaround.
"There was a stage in my life where I didn't think I was going to play at all, let alone get back playing for England," he said in quotes reported by The Mirror.
"But I've taken it day by day and playing club football is where I have got my structure from.
"Thankfully those performances have been reflected with an England call-up and I will be absolutely delighted if I can stay in.
"Regardless of anything, I will continue trying to perform well for my club and when I come away on these camps, in the small period of time I have, I can hopefully I can improve more."
The 27-year-old knows he has come a long way in a relatively short time and he hopes he can become an England regular under Gareth Southgate.
"It's definitely been a journey for me – but it is one that I am very much trying to grasp with both hands," he said.
"I am really enjoying it at the moment so hopefully it continues.
"I thought joining West Brom was the right move for me at the time, but I didn't honestly think this England call would happen as quick as it did, if at all.
"All I can do is go in at West Brom, work doubly hard day-in day-out and hopefully I can grab this opportunity with both hands.
"It is credit to the manager as it's a very brave stance to take. He has been fantastic in the role he has taken up and the boys have taken him very well.
"You hope that England places are up for grabs because it creates good competition and that is what we need. We push each other."
England host Lithuania in World Cup qualifying on Sunday.