Jackson Hastings described it as the probably greatest achievement in his life after being crowned the 2019 Steve Prescott Man of Steel at the Super League awards night.
The 23-year-old Australian half-back became the first Salford winner of an award that was first presented in 1977 in recognition of his achievement in helping the Red Devils reach a maiden Grand Final.
The award marks the completion of a remarkable turn-around in fortunes for the former Sydney Roosters and Manly Sea Eagles player, who arrived at Salford under a cloud in July 2018 after a series of off-field incidents threatened to curtail his promising career.
"It's the greatest achievement that I've ever had in my career and probably my life," Hastings said after receiving the award from Man of Steel selection panel chairman Ellery Hanley, the former Great Britain captain and coach.
"From where I was 16 months ago, I really thought I wasn't going to play again at professional level, I thought I was going to have to get a job, which isn't a bad thing I guess.
"But I'd much rather play rugby league. I've dedicated my whole life to it. It's a great equaliser, rugby league, I soon found out it can be taken away from you quicker than you've been given it.
"I probably didn't respect it or appreciate it as much as I should have, sitting on my couch watching guys my age doing the things that I really wanted to do."
Hastings has made such an impact in his 14 months in Super League that he has landed a two-year contract with Wigan from 2020 but is determined to bow out of Salford on a high with victory over St Helens at Old Trafford on Saturday.
"We're going to turn up and give it our best shot," he said. "We're playing against the best team in the comp but we're going to throw the kitchen sink and see what we can do."