Making his Socceroos debut at the age of 29, Dino Djulbic thought he had missed his chance to break into the national fold.
The Bosnia-born player, who currently plies his trade in China, was named in coach Holger Osieck's 20-man squad for the East Asian Cup qualifiers in Hong Kong and earned his maiden cap in Australia's 9-0 thumping of hapless Guam on Friday night.
Standing at 194cm, the imposing defender had three impressive seasons at Perth Glory from 2007 before signing with German second-tier outfit Rot Weiss Ahlen.
He returned to the A-League in 2010 for a season with the now defunct Gold Coast club and hoped he had done enough by that time to warrant a Socceroos call-up.
"Of course started to think it was never going to happen," Djulbic told AAP.
"I thought I did well in the A-League before I left and thought I may have had my chance then.
"But obviously the chance didn't come so I just had to continue to work hard and have eventually been rewarded at this old age."
Djulbic helped Guizhou Renhe finish fourth in the Chinese Super League this season, earning a spot in the competition's All-Star team after defending against the likes of former English Premier League stars Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.
Much has been made about the young guns in the current Australian squad but among the eight debutants is 30-year-old Brisbane Roar skipper Matthew Smith who has finally gotten the nod after continued excellence at club level.
His Roar teammate Ivan Franjic and Melbourne Heart's Michael Marrone, both 25 years old, have also earned their first international caps as Osieck looks to expose new talent.
"It definitely proves that it's never too late really," Djulbic said.
"You have to just keep in mind that the set-up in the national team is always changing and the coach is always looking at new options regardless of age.
"So if you're doing well for your club I guess you'll get rewarded eventually and that's what's happening to all us older boys at the moment."