This has been a season of vindication for Luke Shaw.
Vindication of his desire to stay at Manchester United and prove his enduring worth, when it would have been easier to accept the challenge was too much and move on.
On Wednesday, Shaw will aim to cement that vindication in the form of Europa League glory, when United take on Villarreal in search of their first trophy under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
For left-back Shaw, there is a personal edge to the occasion, having missed out on the last three finals United have reached, as well as enduring two semi-final defeats.
Now Shaw has a chance to be a part of a cup-winning side and cap a fine season in which he was voted United’s Players’ Player of the Year and selected in Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher’s Team of the Season.
“I always believed I would be able to do it,” said Shaw.
“There were maybe people who – when I was going through the bad times and when I wasn’t playing – were telling me to get out and go and play somewhere else.
“No-one wants to leave the biggest club in the world and I believe there was a reason why I was brought here. I didn’t want to leave and not show what I can do.
“I dug in deep, I didn’t let anyone affect me. Now, I’m on a much better path and setting a higher bar than I have done before. Consistency for me is the key.
“I don’t want to get too comfortable, I want to keep pushing myself and try to deliver high, consistent performances each week.
“That’s why I was disappointed with myself the other night in the defeat against Liverpool.
“That bar that I set, I was under that. I wasn’t what I normally have been this season and that’s why I was very disappointed after that game.
“People have bad days at the office and I said to the manager the day after I was really annoyed with myself.
“He agreed with me and said ‘you weren’t bad’. But I’ve set this consistency at a high level, he expects that every game and I agree with him. I need to push myself to that level.”
Shaw, 25, admitted he was flattered to have been picked by Neville and Carragher in their Team of the Season, given the pair have been critical of him in the past.
“It’s obviously really nice to see, especially from both of them,” said Shaw, who endured a difficult relationship with Jose Mourinho, but has thrived under his successor Solskjaer.
“I’ve been criticised by them in the past, obviously for performances and what not.
“So it’s nice to change their minds on what they think of me. It’s nice to be put in their team of the year.
“They know a lot about football and watch a lot of football, so clearly it means something.
“But you try not to take too much notice of it and just focus on yourself and keep doing the right things to improve and get better.”
For Shaw, whose revival has earned him an England recall, United’s 2017 Europa League triumph – the club’s last trophy – was a bittersweet moment as he watched on injured.
“I was really happy for the squad, for the team and for the fans that season,” said Shaw.
“But being there on crutches, it’s always different. It’s extremely different when you don’t play in it, it’s not the same feeling.
“Hopefully this time I can be involved and try and help the team and, for myself, be involved in the final and win it.”