Getting Portugal to the World Cup has allowed coach Carlos Queiroz to banish some ghosts.
When he returned to coach Portugal almost two years ago he was still remembered for failing to qualify his country for the 1994 tournament in the United States during his first stint in charge. His admission after Portugal made it to South Africa: "It was a lifelong dream."
His relief was all the greater because Portugal's qualification proved to be a rocky ride.
At one point, the team fell to fifth in its group after a run of three goalless draws, two of them on home turf. Add to that Portugal's heaviest loss since 1955 in a 6-2 setback against Brazil in a 2008 friendly and the whispers about Queiroz's suitability climbed to a loud chorus of complaint.
The talk was whether Queiroz had the right stuff to be head coach. He shared success as Alex Ferguson's assistant at Manchester United over five years, but lasted just a season as coach of Real Madrid. But the 57-year-old Queiroz can point to an enviable coaching record on four continents as proof of his talent, formerly leading teams in the United States, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.
Queiroz made his name developing youth teams in Portugal, nurturing the country's so-called Golden Generation, which won consecutive World Youth Championship titles in 1989 and 1991.
In the early days of his second stewardship, Queiroz was unfavorably compared to predecessor Luiz Felipe Scolari, who steered Portugal to the final of the 2004 European Championship and to the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup.
Nicknamed "The Professor" after he graduated from a physical education course in Lisbon, Queiroz is more cerebral than the passionate Brazilian.
He also needed time to find his feet, and players he could trust. In his first 16 matches in charge, he called up more than 40 players. The team settled down in time for Portugal to win its last five qualifying games.
Queiroz has no patience for the knee-jerk criticism that targeted him.
"We have to get rid of this constant habit of dismissing people as either idiots or just lucky," Queiroz said. "We have to understand there is a middle ground, which is straightforward hard work and competence."