Nine Hibs managers have all had faith in Lewis Stevenson, but the defender admits he came close to quitting football because he did not believe in himself.
The loyal Stevenson has been rewarded with a testimonial game against English Championship side Sunderland on July 9 after serving the club with distinction since Tony Mowbray handed him his debut 12 years ago.
The 29-year-old has written himself into club folklore in that time having won the Scottish Cup, League Cup and Championship.
But the affable left-back admits he had serious doubts at the beginning over whether he was made for the cut throat nature of the game.
He said: “There have been times, to be honest, when I’ve thought about jacking football in.
“There were just times when I wasn’t enjoying it.
“I didn’t think I was giving enough to the team, didn’t think I was doing myself justice.
“There are ups and downs of football and I’ve had my fair share.
‘In football, all you see is the stuff on the pitch. But there is so much off the pitch that does take its toll on you.
“It was probably the worst a couple of years after I came into the team.
“But, even when I was younger, I never had my heart set on being a footballer.
“It kind of just happened. It was always a pipe dream, not something I ever imagined I’d be able to do.
“People believed in me more than I believed in myself. This feels like a eulogy!
‘It’s probably just a stress thing. Every time you get to the end of your contract, people are asking you what’s happening and your future is right up in the air.
“Probably the easiest option for me would have been to just turn my back on it all and try something else.
“But I stuck with it. Two cups and a league title later, I’m happy to have done so.
“The club have stuck with me, I’ve stuck with them. And I’ve had help from family and friends to stick with it. It’s worked out well, so I’m glad I stuck with it.
“The last few years are probably the best I’ve had as a player. When you’re enjoying it, that’s when you play your best.”
A consistent performer on the pitch, the low-maintenance Stevenson has been described as a manager’s dream off it having worked under Mowbray, John Collins, Mixu Paatelainen, John Hughes, Colin Calderwood, Pat Fenlon, Terry Butcher, Alan Stubbs and now Neil Lennon.
And Stevenson insists he is happy to lead by example without shouting and bawling.
He added: “Even at boys club football I was never cocky.
“But I’ve got a wee boy now and I tell him to forget about being a defender, because you get no thanks for it. Be a striker, get all the glory!
‘You can only be who you can be.
“It would be quite nice for someone to say I’m a good player who does well for the team, rather than just a good guy!
‘You need different types of characters in the changing room.
“I’m never going to be the player who leads everyone. But I see myself as a pretty good follower.”
The modest Stevenson, meanwhile, played down his gesture of pledging half the proceeds from his testimonial to charity.
He added: “It’s not really me that’s giving the money away, it’s the fans that are paying for it.
“I’m obviously not a Premier League star that earns millions and millions, but you want to give back because it’s the fans that have propped the club up.
“People are saying it’s a great gesture from me but it’s a great gesture from the fans because at the end of the day it’s them that are actually putting their money in and paying for it.”
*Lewis Stevenson was speaking at La Favorita restaurant in Edinburgh. Italian restaurant chain the Vittoria Group are sponsoring the player’s testimonial against Sunderland.