He’s graced the English Premier League and sampled international football.
But former Dundee midfielder Kevin McDonald says his path to stardom wouldn’t have been possible without humble beginnings in Brechin.
The 32-year-old will play in England’s top-flight once more next season after the Cottagers’ play-off final win over Brentford on Tuesday night.
Speaking on the Open Goal podcast, the Scotland and Fulham ace credited his exposure to first-team football with the Dee as a major factor in his rise.
He made his full Dark Blues debut at Glebe Park as a 17-year-old back in 2005 and has since turned out for the likes of Burnley, Sheffield United and Wolves.
McDonald racked up 105 appearances for Dundee, scoring 16 goals, before leaving three years after his senior bow and looks back at his time at Dens Park fondly.
The Carnoustie-born player also lifted the lid on a rejection from Dundee United and says it inspired him to make the grade at their city rivals.
He said: “I got bombed from Dundee United early doors. They said I was too small after youth team level.
“Usually it’s a case of, ‘He’s too small,’ being an easy excuse but I was about 6ft 5 when I was 16!
“I was gone then, thinking my career was done before it had even started but luckily enough I got picked up by Dundee.
“It went quite quick from there. I played a few U-18s games, established myself and had a good season.
“When they were short of players for the reserves I’d come up and join them sitting on the bench.
“Luckily enough I managed to come on for a couple of games, done well and just managed to build my way up.
“Next minute there was a few injuries in the first team and boys not wanting to play and I was making my full debut at Brechin away.
“I was like here we go, Brechin away for my debut. I remember walking into the changing-room thinking to myself, ‘I’m buzzing,’ but looking back now I question why!
“It was fantastic, though, and my career has took off since then.”
One man who McDonald feels should take particular credit for his success is ex-Dee gaffer Alex Rae.
Former Rangers midfielder Rae replaced Alan Kernaghan in the Dens dugout in 2006 as player-manager and McDonald initially feared for his midfield position.
He added: “I knew straight away I was done but he’s the manager at the end of the day so I was still young and ready to accept it.
“He came in and he was at it. He put himself straight into a reserve game and, to be fair to him, he was absolutely brilliant.
“He was a player and absolutely battered us. He was the biggest signing for Dundee when I was there.
“It was such a high-profile player and manager to have besides all the Italians.
“When he came in it was a bit of a wake-up call because he raised the standard as such.
“He was quite hard on people but it was what the club needed at the time.
“He was hard on me because he could see I had potential to go on to another level if I wanted to.
“He was the same with Robbo (Scott Robertson), Dicker (Paul Dixon) and (Gavin) Swankie – the lot of them.
“He helped me, to be fair, because he was a centre midfielder he helped me massively.
“He was smashing people in training on a daily basis. Normally managers want you to take care in training a little bit but he was wanting you to go in hard.
“If you were pulling out of a tackle, he was hammering you so it got feisty at times but he loved that everyone was playing hard for their places.
“He brought that mentality to the club.”
McDonald began to establish himself in Rae’s side, rejecting interest from Celtic and Everton, before moving to Burnley for £250,000.
He was a standout in Scotland’s second tier but not at any point did he find it easy.
McDonald said: “After a couple of goals you do gain a bit of confidence and then there’s the media hype and that.
“It did start to feel easier as time went on. The more I played, the more I got into it and felt more comfortable.
“I’d never at the time say it was easy when you’re going to places like Airdrie away and they’re absolutely battering you.”
Of the transfer interest, he added: “I’d see so many people and heard so many stories of people going to Celtic and being a number.
“They had a 40-man squad, some incredible players right the way through their set-up, such strength and depth throughout the whole club.
“I had a chat with my agent and family and said I don’t think I fancy going there at all.
“I knew there was a couple of clubs interested down south still. That was the swaying point and I thought I needed to give it a blast and go there.
“I had the choice of Burnley and Everton and went to Burnley. I don’t know how that one worked out to be honest.
“It was Owen Coyle who sold it in the end. He was incredible.”