Oliver Neuville repaid the faith shown in him by coach Rudi Voeller on Saturday, grabbing the late goal against Paraguay that took Germany into the World Cup quarter-finals.
The 29-year-old striker, recalled to the side in place of Carsten Jancker, crashed home an 88th minute winner to seal a 1-0 win for the three times world champions.
"The coach told me only this morning that I would play from the start, which came as a bit of a surprise," Neuville, who had totted up just 22 minutes of action during Germany's three first-round games after twice coming on as a substitute, told reporters.
"Obviously, I'm delighted to have started a match and to have scored a goal."
Neuville, who made his international debut for Germany in 1998, was handed a starting place alongside the tournament's top-scorer Miroslav Klose after the towering Jancker was axed following two ineffective performances.
The pair rarely troubled a well-organised Paraguayan defence in a game of few clear-cut scoring chances, although Neuville tested Jose Luis Chilavert with a well-struck 61st minute shot that forced the goalkeeper into a diving save.
There was nothing wrong with his clinical finish though just as the game appeared poised for extra-time, the Switzerland-born striker with a German father and Italian mother swivelling to meet Bernd Schneider's cross with an unstoppable half-volley.
The goal, his fourth at international level, went some way to making up for a season of ultimate disappointment with his club Bayer Leverkusen, beaten in the Champions League final, edged out for the Bundesliga title on the last day of the season and then losing the German Cup final.
"I was in the (German) first team until recently but I lost my place after what happened with Leverkusen this season," added Neuville.
"Now I think everything is possible. We have proven once again that we are able to score when we need to. That will give us a lot of self-confidence for the rest of the tournament."