Highly-regarded around Europe for his abilities as a central defender, it may surprise many to discover that Martin Skrtel did not begin his career in the position he plays now.
The Liverpool and Slovakia stopper actually started his professional career in midfield and had to persuade his club boss to move him back after impressing defensively on international duty.
"With time my position on the football pitch changed. I was a forward as a child but in my teens I became a holding midfielder," he explained to the official Liverpool FC magazine.
"It wasn't until I was 17 that I first played as a defender. I was in a tournament with Slovakia and in the previous game our two regular central defenders got injured and suspended.
"The coach was looking at who could replace them and he came to me. I didn't see it as a problem but only a short-term solution. But I did well, the team won 4-0 against Portugal and I stayed there.
"I carried on playing as a holding midfielder for my club team, though, and after two or three months I asked the manager if I could play centre-back because I felt it fitted me better. He agreed.
"I've been a centre-back for 10 years now, nearly five of them in England. I've played against many tough opponents. Thierry Henry was very difficult. Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney are also tough, as well as Peter Crouch. More recently, Christian Benteke was very good."
Discussing his early heroes, the 28-year-old provided one unexpected name too - Italian forward Roberto Baggio.
He continued: "As a football fan I followed players more than teams - Slovakians like Lubo Moravcik and Petr Dubovsky. I watched a lot of Italian football and my favourite player was Roberto Baggio.
"I liked him because he was different to everyone else, he was unique. As I became older I grew to admire Fabio Cannavaro. I like defenders who appear to enjoy defending. Positionally, Baggio and Cannavaro are very different of course."
Skrtel is expected to make his 200th appearance for the Reds against Manchester United on Sunday, and the defender turned his thoughts back five years to his Liverpool debut.
"I've been at Liverpool for nearly five years now. My first game was against Havant & Waterlooville in the FA Cup. I remember everything from the day," Skrtel said.
"I was nervous and I know it wasn't the best game for myself. I had some problems mainly because I didn't know what to expect from a non-league team.
"It proved to me the standards in English football. After the game I was a bit down but Rafa Benitez told me that he believed in me and that I would eventually show my qualities. I would like to think I have.
"As you get older you mature and realise that the feelings you have before a match are actually anticipation and excitement. When you prepare all week, the closer you get to kick-off you can't wait for it to start.
"Despite not getting nervous I do have superstitions. Every game I put my left shinpad and boot on first. But when I enter the pitch I have to go with my right boot first. It's a bit weird but all sportsmen have these things."
The No.37 also offered his personal perspective on results and revealed how he has become more philosophical with age.
"The best feeling in football is when the final whistle goes, you've won and you've kept a clean sheet. As a defender you know you've done a good job then," he commented.
"To me, though, winning is everything. I'd rather win 5-4 and play badly personally than draw 0-0 and play well.
"When I was younger I used to think about bad results for three or four days. I'd go through games in my mind and analyse where it went wrong. As I got older, if things had gone wrong I'd cancel the rest of the evening and stay at home.
"I always remember the wise words of a coach that told me if you win and go somewhere, the food tastes nicer, your girlfriend or wife looks even better and life is great.
"That is true with me. I've got married and become a father. I've learned to forget quickly and think about the next game. After every game now, as soon as I see my wife and son I remember there is another side to life.
"The most satisfying victory at Liverpool was beating Manchester United 4-1 at Old Trafford. I still smile when I think about that day."