But now Andreas Makris is doing everything he can to ensure Walsall fans see the best of him next season.
The 21-year-old was snapped up by the Saddlers from Anorthosis Famagusta last summer for a fee in the region of £175,000.
But while impressing fans with his energy and work-rate, the striker took his time to adapt to English football and netted just once in 39 appearances.
Now busy working to ensure he can make a bigger impact next year, Makris is no stranger to hard graft – something he learnt while in the army as a teenager.
“Military service was tough,” the forward said.
“I did it for two years after school. I didn’t have enough time to sleep – only five to six hours – and I was out training from eight in the morning to eight at night.
“I would sleep and repeat every day. In Cyprus you have to do it – but I am glad I did.”
After being spotted as a youngster by AEP Paphos, Makris made his debut for the Cypriot side aged just 16.
And that led to move a to Anorthosis Famagusta – one of the biggest teams in Cyprus.
“In Paphos at the time, they had some financial problems and many of the academy players got the chance to prove themselves in the first team,” Makris continued.
“I got the chance and after 10 games I got the move to one of the biggest clubs in Cyprus, Anorthosis Famagusta.
“That is where I built my name. I made more 100 appearances, I had a good spell and I’m thankful to the people there for giving me a chance. It was good for me because I had three good seasons there.”
Makris received a host of awards while playing in Cyprus. “I was voted teen athlete of the year, best player of the year, best young player of the year and best Cypriot scorer of the year,” he said. “That was a great achievement for me.”
With everything that has happened in his life, Makris admits he feels he has packed plenty into his 21 years.
“I’m still 21 but I feel much older,” he added.
“I’ve got more than 150 appearances in my career up to now – and I’m glad about that. I don’t feel young because I was living alone from 17 when I moved to Anorthosis. I had to get used to taking care of everything myself.”