If the notion of a £10m footballer vanishing from the public eye by the age of 27 seems faintly ludicrous, such fears offer fascinating insight into the mindset of Aiden McGeady. Three years have passed since McGeady swapped Celtic, his childhood club, for the life-changing riches of Spartak Moscow. The Republic of Ireland international has matured both on and off the field.
Yet a confident player and personality reveals a hidden worry when the subject of his future is raised. Everton, Newcastle and Fulham are among those who have cast admiring glances towards McGeady, for whom the Russian experience looks like drawing to a close. The odds would be in favour of that happening in January.
"When I am with the Ireland squad sometimes I look at the guys who are playing in England and feel a bit jealous," says McGeady. "I feel I could be in the back of people's minds now, that I could be forgotten about. People ask me: 'Where are you playing now?' 'Oh are you still there?' I have made no secret of the fact that one day I would like to play in England. I would be disappointed if I never get the chance to do that. I didn't think I would be here this long, I didn't see myself being here longer than a couple of years. But no footballer really looks four or five years ahead."
When McGeady last made headlines in Scotland, it was reported that he had "trashed" a dressing room after a sending off against Mordovia Saransk. "That annoyed me," he admits. "If I score a goal in a derby or am doing really well, that doesn't get in the papers back home and I don't expect it to. But then something bad happens, a suspension, a sending off, issues with the manager, and that does. And gets exaggerated. I kicked the dressing room door and my foot went right through it. I think it was an old Soviet door: cardboard."
McGeady's six-match suspension led to an appeal and provided his latest insight into the wacky world of Russian officialdom.
"I went into a room and explained what happened to the five guys on the disciplinary panel," McGeady recalls. "I went back outside and could just hear them bawling at each other for 10 minutes. They called me back in and said the ban was wiped."
McGeady represents an all-too rare case of a British-born player in this age who has moved abroad and succeeded. Part explanation for that can be found in the fact McGeady is clearly bright enough to handle transition. That is to his credit, as is a desire to help the club end a 10-year wait for a domestic championship before bidding farewell.
Russia has been tarnished once again by the shocking blight of racism following CSKA Moscow's visit of Manchester City. Spartak's followers were also responsible for serious disorder at last midweek's cup match against Shinnik Yaroslavl, which forced the abandonment of the match. McGeady spoke exclusively to the Guardian before those instances occurred.
Even then, McGeady may not have offered deep affection towards the country but he does appear to have a genuine endearment for Spartak. He would be disappointed to exit without tangible reward.
"I only have until next summer left on my contract," McGeady explains. "The club have offered me a new one but I'm not of a mind to sign it. It is in my mind to get back somewhere closer to home. I have told the club that and they are fine with it.
"We have been second, second and fourth in the league during my time here but haven't won anything. It would be nice to leave having won a trophy."
McGeady denies his salary, reported at £75,000 a week when he moved from Celtic, has put off potential suitors. "When you are contracted at a club in Russia, they can ask for whatever they want to sell you. And they do," he explains. "I was linked with Zenit and Anzhi, I wouldn't have gone there but Spartak would demand £20m-30m for me anyway. I think that is more of a factor than what wages I have been earning."
McGeady has relished life away from Glasgow. Two-hour journeys to or from training and flights to every away match are no hassle, he insists, when offset against a less stressful way of life. "It has been a big change but a refreshing one," says the midfielder. "Don't get me wrong, I miss it when I am away for a while. I miss my family and there is a warmth to people in Glasgow that I miss. But I have come away from a place where everyone wants to speak, in a good or bad way, to somewhere that nobody really knows me."
That said, the football culture in Russia could never be considered straightforward. "Last season we beat Zenit and Lokomotiv Moscow in the last two games to finish second in the league and one of the directors came in and handed out cash bonuses in the dressing room," says McGeady. "Just because he was so happy really. They were on top of our standard bonuses. That's not common at our club but at others it is.
"The owner appears now and again after games but it's his second in command we see more of after games. If you have had a bad game, he tells you all about it in the dressing room. It's like a second team talk, but from a fan. That was a wee bit surreal at first."
When McGeady did depart Celtic, his transfer fee played a useful part in Neil Lennon's ability to rebuild a squad capable of making an impact in Europe. "They play football in a different way at Spartak and I have definitely changed as a player," says McGeady. "I am glad I came here, it has been an eye-opening experience in so many ways, to stay out here for three years and start a family. I have been playing in a very technical style of football, very tactical.
"We play 4-3-3 a lot, where I will be on the right or the left and expected to make runs beyond the strikers a lot. When I came here I was used to 4-4-2 where I was a real wide player. That's fine when you are getting plenty of the ball; it is a lonely place otherwise."
McGeady does not quite say the same about Moscow, but a switch closer to his roots seems inevitable. Whether the wider world recognises it or not, he has earned that chance.