It is 10 months since Chelsea flew Edouard Mendy straight from winning the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon to Abu Dhabi for the final of the Club World Cup.
And just six days after becoming an African champion with Senegal, Mendy became a world club champion with Chelsea, nine months after he had been crowned a European champion and later been named the best goalkeeper in the world by Fifa.
But now, in Doha, a five-and-a-half-hour road trip from Abu Dhabi, Mendy and his Senegal and Chelsea team-mate Kalidou Koulibaly have a point to prove in the last 16 of the World Cup against England on Sunday night.
Whereas Chelsea could not contemplate playing a final without Mendy almost a year ago, even against relatively comfortable opposition such as Palmeiras, the 30-year-old will not return from this World Cup to his club as an automatic starter.
Kepa Arrizabalaga, who was furious to be dropped for the final of the Club World Cup after producing an excellent display in the semi-final while Mendy was representing Senegal, will arrive back in Abu Dhabi on Monday with the rest of Chelsea’s non-World Cup players for a warm weather training camp.
Given he is fully fit again and well rested, Kepa, who started all of Graham Potter’s first 10 games in charge as head coach before suffering an injury in the defeat to Brighton, will expect to restart the Premier League season on December 27 as Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper.
The doubts over Mendy’s form have not solely focused around his club. He was at fault in Senegal’s Group A defeat to Holland, which prompted some calls for Seny Dieng, who plays for Queens Park Rangers, to replace him.
But Mendy has the support of his deputy, Dieng, who said: “He was struggling with injury, so it’s hard. But I think he’s definitely back now and he won the best keeper in the world award, so he’s definitely one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He’s an outstanding goalkeeper.”
When Mendy and central defender Koulibaly return to Chelsea will depend on whether or not Senegal can get past England and how far they progress at the World Cup, but both men will face a battle to regain their places.
Along with Kepa, defenders Wesley Fofana, Reece James and Ben Chilwell will continue their recoveries from injuries in Abu Dhabi, while Trevoh Chalobah and Marc Cucurella have recharged their batteries after missing out on World Cup call-ups with England and Spain.
There is doubt over Mendy’s long-term future with little progress made on a new contract and Chelsea are understood to already be examining potential goalkeeper targets for the summer.
Similarly, Koulibaly’s challenge may be greater than simply forcing his way back into the current Chelsea side with the club keen on signing Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol, who has enhanced his reputation even further at the World Cup.
Just as this part of the world holds some happy memories for Mendy, following February’s success in Abu Dhabi, it also has significance for Koulibaly.
It was in Doha eight years ago that Koulibaly won his first trophy with Napoli, the club at which he made his name, by beating Juventus in the Italian Super Cup at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, which is being used as a training base by France during the World Cup.
The match went to a penalty shootout and it was Koulibaly who scored what proved to be the winning spot-kick, which will give him plenty of confidence if Senegal and England go all the way to penalties in Doha.
Whether or not Mendy would stay on the pitch for a penalty shootout remains to be seen, even though he was part of the spot-kick successes against Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifying.
Mendy has saved two of 21 penalties he has faced in regular matches and three of the 20 he has faced in shootouts, which has raised the prospect of Dieng, who has a better record, replacing him if the last-16 tie goes to spot-kicks.
“Listen, I know Edou will definitely do his job like all the penalty shootouts we had this year, which he won,” said Dieng. “But I’m definitely ready if I have to step in.”
Koulibaly could not have timed scoring his first-ever international goal any better, as it was his strike against Ecuador that secured Senegal’s path into the last-16.
The 31-year-old also has one goal for Chelsea, a brilliant volley against Tottenham Hotspur in his first appearance at Stamford Bridge, but since then Koulibaly has found it difficult to acclimatise to the Premier League and the English game. He was sent-off in his next game against Leeds United and has collected five yellow cards since then.
There would be no better opponent for Mendy and Koulibaly to prove a point against than England. Senegal will believe they can.