From celebrated match-winner to Adelaide United outcast in less than 18 months, Mark Ochieng has already discovered just how cruel professional football can be.
Then just 20, the most electrifying moment of Ochieng's career to date came and went in a flash during a Hyundai A-League home meeting with Melbourne City on January 12, 2017.
Guillermo Amor's gamble on the young winger paid off handsomely as he needed mere moments to rifle Adelaide into a decisive 2-1 lead in the 87th minute.
But, with three coaches in four seasons at the city of churches, playing minutes became limited and starts were even rarer for the talented Kenyan-born teenager.
Ochieng soon found himself on the outer and was eventually released in May.
Made to wait
The versatile former Australia Under-17 international admits it has been tough to swallow his exit from the Hyundai A-League scene.
"Yeah, it's frustrating. Anyone in my situation would be frustrated because my dream was always to have a long-term professional career," he told theffacup.com.au.
"It was tough for me at Adelaide. Spending four years with three different coaches doesn't really make it easier.
"I was in favour with some coaches and wasn't in favour with others and that's football, it happens and I'm definitely thankful for the opportunities that I did get."
Ready to rebound
Starring in the FFA Cup, of course, is a handy way to fast-track your return to the top tier.
Ochieng did his chances of a return no harm by helping current club Adelaide Comets to a 4-0 crushing of Gwelup Croatia in the Round of 32.
Now, as his team braces for another do-or-die date - this time at home to Heidelberg United - the ex-AIS product and current sports science student is ready to prove he can once again make the next step.
"I'm just taking it one game at a time," he said. "I'm aspiring to go further with my football and hopefully get back into that professional realm.
"It's a hard one. I'm just taking games as they come and trying to do my best with the Comets and if anything eventuates you've just got to put your best foot forward.
"I think if you enjoy your football and you put in the hard work everything will fall into place."