Sunderland goalkeeper Keiren Westwood has said he is relishing the prospect of top-flight football following his climb up the leagues.
Released by Manchester City at 19, he joined Carlisle in the Conference, then Championship side Coventry in 2008.
He joined the Black Cats in June and will have to battle Simon Mignolet and Craig Gordon for a first-team place.
Now 26, he told BBC Newcastle: "I've done things the hard way but it gives you that hunger and desire to achieve."
He said he was grateful to Carlisle for taking him on after his release by Manchester City.
"I've not looked back really," he continued.
"I had a really bad summer getting passed from pillar to post on trial here, on trial there, and nothing ever working, being promised contracts and getting them taken away.
"I was close to becoming a policeman."
Westwood, who arrived on a free transfer after his contract at Coventry ended, is behind first-choice goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in the pecking order, with Scotland international Craig Gordon expected to return from injury at the end of August.
Boss Steve Bruce had given him no guarantees of first-team action, he confirmed.
"I don't think he promises anyone anything.
"You've got to go out and earn your place and then perform well to stay in the team."