Winger Keith Treacy admits “the penny has dropped” as he looks to fulfil his potential at Burnley.
The 24-year-old has made only 45 appearances in just over two seasons with the club, with his fourth goal setting the Clarets on their way to victory against Yeovil on Saturday.
Boss Sean Dyche is helping him battle his off-field demons, and he accepts it is football or nothing for him, and he has to grasp this latest opportunity.
He has been battling fitness issues, and trying to secure access to his daughter, and the Republic of Ireland international feels things are finally going in the right direction: “I’ve been battling with things off the pitch. I’ve had a couple of things I’ve got to fight with but I’m on top of everything at the minute, I’ve lost a bit of weight – a lot will be made about that now.
“I’ve worked well with Mark Howard, who I know from Blackburn, and we’ve worked closely together.
“A lot of credit goes to him for getting me in the shape I’m in and hopefully I can start getting some rewards now.”
Asked when he last felt as fit as he does now, Treacy said: “Probably Preston. But I’ve still got a little bit to go. There’s no point in kidding myself and masking things with a goal. But I’m starting to learn that what you do outside the pitch is just as important as what you do on it.
“It’s taken me 24 years for that penny to drop, but at least it’s dropped.
“I’m talking about a lot of things, not just socialising, like flying back to Dublin to see my family.
“I don’t mean sitting in pubs for all hours but to genuinely see my family.
“I’ve been going up and down the country to see my daughter.
“Sometimes you’ve got to put your career first, no matter how hard it is.
“My daughter lives in Chorley but she’s away at the minute so I’ve not seen her for a couple of weeks, which is tough.
“I’m going through court at the minute so I can get access to her.
“It is tricky stuff.
“I suppose scoring a goal takes my mind off it for 10 minutes but then you go home and it is still there. That is the things I am trying to balance out. I want to make sure I don’t get too highs with the highs and too low when the lows happen. I am just trying to stay neutral.”
And he is determined to make the most of a career that has promised much, but not yet delivered: “I am in the last year of my contract now and I have a four year old daughter I need to support. (My partner) has two little girls I’m supporting, not solely but it is nice to have security for my family back there and my daughter. It’s now more than just me.
“I am just too stupid to do another job so I have to knuckle down and get on with the football.
“At least the penny has dropped and I can keep my head down. I just want to keep working hard in training and express myself at the weekends.”
And he thanked Dyche for his help in overcoming his issues: “The manager has been extremely understanding with the circumstances in my life. If I needed to go back to Dublin, he believed me. He believed in the things I said. He never thought I was up to something and he never questioned me. He always believed in me and my ability. It was purely about my fitness and my demons off the pitch.
“He pushed me to get to the courts and do things. He is making me a better person off the pitch and that is starting to show in my form on the pitch.
“It is going through the mill at courts now and it is probably going to get worse than it is better. But I used to run away from these sort of things but now I am facing them head on and come out the other side a better person.”
Meanwhile, Treacy admitted his goal was a cross-shot, and he was delighted to see it deceive keeper Sam Johnstone and fly in at the near post.
Asked if he meant it, he said: “It was one of those things, a cross-shot, I looked up and it was in the net.
“I’ll take double figures of those all season, I don’t care how they go in.
“It left my boot, I looked up and the keeper was in a bit of a mess and the next thing I knew it was in the back of the net.”