Republic of Ireland goalkeeper David Forde says his long wait to see action in a competitive game was worth it.
The 33-year-old Millwall player had been behind Shay Given and Keiren Westwood in the pecking order since making his debut against Northern Ireland in May 2011.
However, with Given's retirement and Westwood's lack of game-time at Sunderland, the Galway-born stopper has forced his way into Giovanni Trapattoni's starting XI, and is likely to play against Sweden in Friday's night's Group C World Cup qualifier.
"I've never stopped believing," Forde told reporters in Dublin ahead of the game. "I've always been quite positive. I have a lot of belief in my own ability. I just kept doing the right things and I knew that hopefully that would be enough and I've been lucky enough and managed to get my head in the door.
"We'll see how the week pans out, it still hasn't been written in stone. I'm really looking forward if that's the case. It's going to be a big challenge and one I'm certainly looking forward to."
The former Derry City player kept a clean sheet in the Republic of Ireland's 2-0 friendly win over Poland last month and says that the shut-out, against the likes of Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski was a great boost for his confidence.
"It was fantastic. It's always nice to keep a clean sheet and it puts us in good stead for going to Sweden on Friday night. It gives the team confidence and if you want to be successful, if you want to get to major tournaments, you need clean sheets," he said.
Forde, who is set to win his sixth cap in Stockholm, admits that the game is going to "be up there" with the biggest of his career. He will be the last line of a defence tasked with keeping tabs on Paris Saint-Germain's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The ex-Cardiff City player joked that he was aware of the hype that surrounds the much-travelled Swede but said that he has no special preparations for playing against big-name strikers.
"Yeah, yeah, whoever that guy is, there's a lot of talk about him. He's a world-class striker, isn't he, so we're going to have our hands full with him.
"I just prepare my own game. That's all I can do is just control what I can do, so I don't bother worrying about what they can do," he said.
After Friday's game, attention will turn to the home match with Austria on Tuesday night. The double-header will have a huge bearing on the outcome of the group. Forde said that securing a draw against second-placed Sweden would be a great result.
"It probably is a vital, vital game. We want to stay in contention, we're in a good position, we're a point behind Sweden so, at minimum, we're looking at getting a result but if we can come away with three points, it'd be massive for us and give us a lot of confidence going into Tuesday night with Austria at home," he added.