The life of a footballer is one of hardships and joy, and while most players get a taste of silverware and success early on in their careers, there are those who must have great patience and endurance.
Patience to attain the goals they wish to achieve, and to endure the pain on the path to greatness. There are few players around the world who have had more patience and endured more than Germany's Marco Reus.
The Borussia Dortmund attacker heads to Russia this summer to his first ever FIFA World Cup and it would be an understatement if it was said it has been a long wait. For him, it must have felt like a million years.
Heartbreak before Brazil 2014 for Reus
Reus has been quite a popular figure in German football ever since his time at Borussia Mönchengladbach. It isn't just his goals and assists and his presence on the pitch that makes him such a special player, it's also his attitude off of it.
He has always been a loyal player for club and country. It is that very quality which has made him a fans' favourite. Unfortunately, ever since his return to his youth club Dortmund from Gladbach, his career has been hurt by injuries.
Reus was a key member in Germany's qualification campaign for Brazil 2014, scoring five and assisting three in six qualification games. That impressive form was nothing surprising for a player of his quality. He had finished the 2013-14 campaign with a tally of 23 goals and 18 assists.
An excellent domestic campaign also paved the way for his place in the Bundesliga team of the year and also ended up with him being rewarded as the player of the season. Naturally, he was the player expected to shine for Germany in Brazil and it seemed that he was all but ready to, however, it just wasn't meant to be.
In Germany's final game before the World Cup against Armenia, Reus was forced to withdraw from the match with an ankle injury. Post-match reports indicated that the injury was severe and that he would be missing the World Cup.
Germany boss Joachim Löw had to make the tough call to drop him and include Shkodran Mustafi in his place. "For him and for us this is extremely regrettable," said Löw after the win against Armenia.
Reus misses out on Germany's triumph
It was an incredibly difficult time for Reus. He had been waiting since 2010 for his chance to shine for his country on the biggest stage of them all.
Germany ended up winning the World Cup thanks to a spectacular goal in the final against Argentina from Reus's close friend, Mario Götze. As a German national, Reus must have been delighted, however, as a player, the pain of missing out on the trophy was even more.
Reus said after Germany's triumph in August, "If one day before the departure to Brazil you get the bad news that you cannot fly, it is very painful. If you see how the World Cup ends, it hurts twice that I could not be there."
Since then, Reus' career at club level has been continuously interrupted by niggling injuries and a few serious ones. However, whenever he's been on the pitch, Dortmund have always looked a far better side than when he is off it.
Chance for redemption in Russia for Reus
Reus missed the first half of the 2017-18 season while he recovered from the ligament injury he sustained during the 2017 DFB Pokal final. In February earlier this year, he made his return to first-team football.
Since his return, he has been in encouraging form. Scoring seven goals in 15 appearances, as Dortmund finished fourth after a mixed season all things considered.
While most players for Dortmund in recent history have moved away from the club, Reus' ties with the club grow stronger with each passing year. In March, he signed a new deal which extended his stay with up to 2023, at the very least. Signing a new long-term at the age of 29 shows the kind of trust that Dortmund have in him and the loyalty that Reus has for the club.
After missing out on Brazil four years ago, now is the time to shine for Reus. In Russia, he will certainly a key part for Germany as they hope to retain the World Cup for the first time.
Reus' technical brilliance combined with his attacking intelligence will give a different dimension to Germany when you compare to the other players in the roster. While most of the players in the squad are tactically functional players who favour Löw's style of play, Reus is a unique talent with the ability to change games into his side's favour.
After confirming that Reus would be a part of his World Cup squad, Löw was extremely pleased to have a player of his talents and praised Reus' talents ahead of Germany's clash against Austria.
Löw said, "He's so able, he makes it look so easy and playful. His timing is spot-on, even his passing. He's clinical. He's making a really good impression, and he'll play against Austria. Marco's like a rocket!"
Although Germany lost the game 2-1 to Austria, it was Reus' first appearance for the national side in almost two years and also a return from injury for captain Manuel Neuer.
International friendlies have been a very small indicator of anything ahead of big tournaments, so the loss to Austria will not worry Reus and co. as they prepare to defend their beloved trophy in Russia.
It's been a long wait for the Dortmund man and now he will have his chance to show his countrymen what they have been missing out on. The dream for Reus would be to help his country retain the World Cup, nonetheless, he will be glad that his agony is over and in a week's time, he will put on that glorious white kit with pride once again.