The prospect of Jonathan Pitroipa emerging as a contender for this year's BBC award was remote prior to this year's Africa Cup of Nations, where Burkina Faso had been drawn in a difficult group with Zambia and Nigeria.
Yet not only did the Stallions knock out the Chipolopolo, the defending champions, they also topped their group above the Nigerians.
However, the Super Eagles would go on to beat the Burkinabe in a tight final yet it was Pitroipa - rather than any Nigerian - who was voted the Player of the Tournament.
The Rennes winger had been instrumental from the off, creating a late equaliser in the opening 1-1 draw against the eventual winners, and his form improved in the next game - scoring one and creating two as 10-man Burkina thumped Ethiopia 4-0.
That was the Stallions' first victory at a Nations Cup since reaching the last four as hosts in 1998 and Pitroipa then fired them to the semi-final when scoring in a 1-0 extra-time win against Togo.
Erroneously dismissed in the shock semi-final win over Ghana, the former Hamburg star played in the final after his red card was overturned but made little impact as a tired Burkina lost 1-0.
Nonetheless, he took his Nations Cup form into World Cup qualifying - proving a key man again as the Stallions emerged top of their group after a difficult start, and scoring a potentially crucial goal in the 3-2 win over Algeria in the first leg of their play-off.
At club level, Pitroipa finished the 2012-13 season with seven goals as Rennes finished 13th and reached their first French League Cup final, losing out to Saint- Etienne.