The nature of elite-level soccer means most players have been through some form of hardship to get where they are today.
But Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw knows better than most that nothing can be taken for granted in this profession.
Having failed to reach double figures for Premier League starts in each of his last three seasons at Old Trafford – not helped by that horrific leg break against PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League in 2015 – the defender has enjoyed his most prolific season-to-date with United in 2018/19.
On Thursday that was capped off as the 23-year-old was named the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year.
It’s obviously nice for me, but I’d rather win no [individual] trophies and have a better season as a team," Shaw told United's website. "We need to move on and focus now on next season and what’s to come.
Ole has done an amazing job and, of course, we’ve had ups and downs but he’s obviously looking forward to getting us back in pre-season and getting his proper work done for next season. We’re all looking forward to starting fresh next season with him as the manager.
His first season at Manchester United, in 2014/15 as a 19-year-old, was one of adjusting to his new surroundings.
By the following year, 2015/16, he seemed to have found his feet and was a regular starter in the early part of the season. It was, unfortunately, short-lived; a broken leg against PSV in the Champions League ended his season in September. The break could have even resulted in Shaw losing his leg entirely.
The effects of the injury didn’t just stop at the 11 months it took him to see first-team football again. There was a feeling amongst some United fans, and even extending to former coach José Mourinho, that Shaw still wasn’t quite right.
Ahead of the final round of Premier League fixtures, the Englishman has played 2,592 minutes of football in the Premier League this season. Across the previous seasons combined, he played just 1,928.
But in 2018/19 he’s been back with a bang. Shaw has been one of the most consistent performers across the season, picking up the club’s Player of the Month award in August, September, and March. His start to the season was so good the club handed him a new contract in October.
Shaw has picked up one goal and three assists in the Premier League this season, and has been a key part in several others as well. The left-back has an incredible judgement for how to weight a pass for team-mates to run onto, and this has come in very useful when Manchester United have the chance to counter-attack.
Among Premier League full-backs he is 13th overall for dribbles completed per 90 minutes (0.93), while he also ranks 13th for Big Chances created (0.24) and 15th for assists (0.13).
United finish their season at home to already relegated Cardiff City on Sunday. While it has not been a vintage season for the 20-time champions of England, their turnaround under Ole Gunnar Solskjær and the form of Shaw are two reasons to hope for better next term.