Donetsk: Often reduced to a supporting role at Bayern Munich, Anatoly Tymoshchuk has rediscovered centre stage at Euro 2012 as the captain and most capped player of co-hosts Ukraine.
At 32 and with 117 caps to his name, Tymoshchuk on Monday sampled the European Championship finals for the first time, his country having never previously qualified.
Along with the other 30-something members of the squad, he is expected to mentor Ukraine's promising young players such as Dynamo Kiev's Andrei Yarmolenko and Yaroslav Rakitskiy from Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk.
A very consistent player, who is rarely injured, he has rarely let down the national side since making his debut in 2000.
Upon arriving at Shakhtar at the age of 18, he very quickly imposed himself in defensive midfield, capable of whisking the ball away from opponents' feet but also able to orchestrate the play.
He spent 10 seasons in Donetsk, notably winning three league titles and three Ukrainian Cups, and in 2007 he was transferred to Zenit Saint-Petersburg for a record fee of 15 million euros ($18.85m).
He helped guide Zenit to their first Russian title in the post-Soviet era and then, a year later, played a pivotal role in the 2-0 defeat of Rangers in the UEFA Cup final in Manchester.
During the semi-final against Bayern, he caught the eye of Germany's most successful club and one year on, he moved to Bavaria.
With Bayern, he won the German league and cup double in his first season but made only around 20 appearances, half of which came from the substitutes' bench.
Over the last two seasons, he has owed much of his playing time to injuries and suspensions that have rendered his more storied team-mates unavailable.
It was thus that he played in Bayern's Champions League final defeat by Chelsea last month, as a replacement for the suspended Holger Badstuber in the centre of the Bayern defence.
If his three seasons at Bayern have been somewhat lacklustre, prompting rumours of a move to Italy this summer, he has helped to write the most glorious pages in the young history of the Ukrainian national side.
He was a member of the team that reached the last eight of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where they lost 3-0 to eventual champions Italy after overcoming Switzerland on penalties in the previous round.
Buoyed by that experience, Tymoshchuk set ambitious targets for Ukraine prior to the start of the Euro.
"We want to get through the first round," he said. "That goes without saying. And after that, I can even see us in the final.
"I know that it'll be difficult, but I always set myself impossible goals."
The 2-1 victory over Sweden in Ukraine's opening game will have done nothing to dent his confidence and victory over France on Friday will enable Tymoshchuk to fulfill the first of his objectives.