Alex Mowatt believes his hard work has finally been rewarded after signing a new contract at Barnsley.
The Reds, then in the Championship under the stewardship of Paul Heckingbottom, lured the highly-rated midfielder from Yorkshire rivals Leeds in January 2017.
But the 23-year-old struggled to display his potential in the early stages of his career at Oakwell, seeing red on his debut and then joining Oxford on loan last season.
That left his future with the Tykes in doubt, especially with his contract expiring next summer, but Mowatt returned to the club following relegation with a point to prove.
He has found a new lease of life under head coach Daniel Stendel, becoming an ever-present in League One as Barnsley push for an immediate return to the second tier.
And his current form has persuaded the Reds to tie Mowatt down to a new deal, keeping him at the club until 2020, with the option of a further 12 months.
“I am really happy to sign the contract, with the way the season has gone it is really exciting,” he exclusively told the Star.
“When you are playing every game and you are playing 90 minutes every week near enough, you feel like you are an important player for the team.
“I haven’t had that in the last couple of seasons, but this season I have played every game so far, which is really good.
“In the summer I went away and set myself some high standard and targets.
“I was in the last year of my contract so I needed to prove to everyone that I was a good footballer.”
Stendel’s arrival in the summer has transformed Barnsley’s fortunes around following demotion from the Championship.
Mowatt has flourished under the German’s attacking style, playing an integral role in his side rising to third in the table.
Known for his stunning long-range strikes at Elland Road, he has also produced classy finishes in the home games against Plymouth and Bristol Rovers this term.
“He is very passionate and the way he likes to play the game helps me,” Mowatt added.
“I enjoy playing the style of football we are playing this season and he wants to win every game, he never goes into a game trying to get a draw, he is trying to win every game.
“He doesn’t want to sit at 1-0, he wants it to be 2-0, 3-0 and I think all the lads enjoy that, even the little details he will pull you into the office and tell you want we need to do better.
“He has improved the game for a lot of us.”