GERHARD Tremmel admits he felt a little isolated last season.
The Swansea City goalkeeper agreed a new two-and-a-half year contract this week — but not so long ago his future was far from certain.
As Swansea celebrated the second most successful campaign in their history last summer, Tremmel seemed on the periphery.
His contribution to their 11th-place Premier League finish had been limited.
The former Red Bull Salzburg stopper made just one top-flight appearance under Brendan Rodgers and another two in the FA Cup.
That was not the impact he had hoped to make after signing a year earlier.
To compound the situation, he had left his wife Sarah in Germany where she was studying law.
"The first six months was very tough because we were so used to each other — she always moved with me to other clubs," said Tremmel.
"All of a sudden I was by myself. I had to clean the apartment and wash my clothes, normal stuff.
"Sometimes I felt a bit lonely and there are still some days when I feel a bit lonely, but I'm more used to it now and she is too."
After being named 2011-2012 player of the season by both his team-mates and Swansea supporters, regular keeper Michel Vorm signed a new four-year contract.
And as he did so, Tremmel's dream to play regular Premier League football appeared to have been dashed.
Then came the offer of a return to Germany, a chance to move nearer his wife and enjoy being a No. 1 again.
But Tremmel said no.
"Even though I wasn't playing last season, I felt like I was in the right place," he said.
"It was a dream for me to come and play in the Premier League. I had the opportunity, but then I wasn't playing.
"Michel had a really good season so it was clear that I didn't have a good chance to come in and play.
"That's the point in the summer when I wondered whether it was right to stay or not.
"Michel signed a new contract so I was really struggling with myself."
The obvious choice would have been to cut his losses. He could have severed ties with Swansea, moved back home and put the whole episode down to experience.
Yet there was something urging the 34-year-old to stay.
"I've never met such friendly people in one place as I have in Swansea," he said.
"It's not just the club, but the city and Welsh people in general.
"I feel a bit like I'm home and I cannot explain that.
"It sounds a bit weird, talking about destiny, but too many things have fallen into place."
Tremmel has been rewarded for following his instincts. Though he began the season as Vorm's understudy, the former Bayern Munich youngster was installed as first-choice Capital One Cup keeper and Swansea started making progress in the competition.
Wins against Crawley, Barnsley, Liverpool and Middlesbrough saw them advance to a semi-final with Chelsea.
There Tremmel twice kept the Blues at bay to help set up a Wembley showdown against Bradford.
And he was also handed a chance in the league.
Tremmel played in memorable wins at Arsenal and Newcastle and by the time Vorm returned, the line between first choice and deputy had become a lot more blurred.
"I've never felt like a back-up and I never will. If I lose this feeling then I know it's time to retire," said Tremmel.
"I think the situation has changed a bit for me and for Michel as well.
"If I'd been a No. 1 and Michel didn't play and couldn't show what he could do, I wouldn't worry.
"But once he started playing and played good, it's a different competition.
"I've been called 1A and 1B and all that.
"I'm just so happy that I got a chance to show what I can do.
"I don't think the club needs to be concerned about their goalkeepers for a while."