He has enjoyed a successful career, but Mohamed Diame will have few weeks more important than the one he is about to embark on with Club and country.
The West Ham United midfielder will captain Senegal in their 2014 FIFA World Cup African round three first-leg qualifier with Ivory Coast on Tuesday and then return to east London to tackle Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday.
Victory in both matches would give Diame huge satisfaction, improving the Hammers' prospects and putting him within touching distance of leading out the Lions of Teranga in Brazil next summer.
Starting with the World Cup qualifier, the No21 and his team-mates are desperate to erase the memory of being disqualified for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations when a riot forced the abandonment of their play-off with the Ivorians.
"Of course, the qualifier is a big game for us," Diame told whufc.com. "We have a bad memory of a short time again of the qualifier for the African Cup but now is different. We have a support of the country to be in Brazil and it is very important for everyone. We're going to try to fight hard to win this game.
"For me, to be captain at the World Cup in Brazil would be unbelievable. I always dreamed to play in the World Cup, but to be captain of my family and of my people and have them support me would be unbelievable. I will try to do my best to be there."
Despite having a host of top-class players, Senegal have qualified for just one FIFA World Cup previously, when they shocked holders France on their way to the quarter-finals.
A little more than a decade later, Diame says the current crop of stars from the West African country are determined to reach a second finals.
"Everybody knows there is a lot of talent in Senegalese players so we need to show this talent as a team," he explained. "I think a lot of players come as individuals and show their ability and talent, but we need to take all this and make it as one, as a team."
Ivory Coast represent familiar opposition for the Lions of Teranga, with Senegal having faced their rivals twice a year ago and many Ivorians and Senegalese playing their football in top European leagues.
For the Ivory Coast, brothers Kolo (Liverpool) and Yaya Toure (Manchester City), striker Wilfried Bony (Swansea City) and midfielder Cheick Tiote (Newcastle United) all play in the Barclays Premier League, while defender Sol Bamba, midfielders Didier Zokora and Max Gradel and forwards Didier Drogba, Gervinho and Salomon Kalou have also featured in English football.
For Senegal, Diame is joined in the Barclays Premier League by Newcastle forward Papiss Cisse and Chelsea's former West Ham striker Demba Ba.
"We already know the quality they have and the players they have," said Diame, with a smile. "Of course, we know them but we would have preferred to play against a less-strong team than them!
"I think it's going to be a hard game but we're going to be prepared for that. We will have one week together and we'll train hard to be ready."
On his return to London, Diame will come face to face with Yaya Toure for the second time in five days when West Ham take on Manchester City at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday. Yet again, the two midfielders will be central to their respective team's chances of success.
"Yaya is a big player and an important for his country and for Man City as well," he said. "We know the quality he has and we just have to try to stop him and make him have a bad game.
"Of course, these big games are what professionals look forward to. We live to play these games, so I will try to enjoy winning them!"