He fell at the last hurdle on X Factor in 2008, when Simon Cowell crushed his dreams before the live finals.
But Wolverhampton's Liam Payne proved he now has what it takes to go all the way after an "incredible" audition on the show. The 17-year-old received a standing ovation from Cowell and Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia.
His performance at LG Arena was aired on Saturday. Dressed in a plain white t-shirt, dark jeans and boots, the confident teenager gave a storming rendition of Michael Buble's version of Cry Me A River.
And he is already being tipped as the next teen sensation Justin Bieber by judge Louis Walsh.
The Wolverhampton student , who turned 17 last week, made it as far as the judges house stage in 2008 after Cowell dropped last year's finalist Rikki Loney to take him there.
Cowell later sent him home, claiming he was too young.
But he returned a "bit broader and a bit deeper" this year, according to presenter Dermot O'Leary, and wowed the judges.
Cheryl Cole was the first to comment on the teenager's performance.
She said: "You've definitely got it, whatever it is, you have got it."
She was followed by guest judge Imbruglia, who commented: "That was really impressive.
"I think other people in this competition should be a little bit worried about you. You're really good."
Irish Walsh told Liam he was glad to see him back in the competition.
"It was a brilliant vocal. You totally delivered," he said.
He added to his fellow judges: "He is like Justin Bieber. I want the boys this year."
Cowell played down taunts from his colleagues that he should not have let him go the first time.
"He wasn't quite ready when he came to my house two years ago," he said.
"I said to him then come back in two years time and you are going to be a different person. I got it right."
Liam received a yes from all four judges. "
Liam, who is studying sound technology at Wolverhampton College, said: "This show has already changed my life because if I hadn't come on the show I would be working in a factory."