From almost the moment he became city council leader in May 1999, Sir Albert Bore's ability to run Birmingham in the way he would have wanted was severely restricted by in-fighting among the Labour group.
Four times in as many years Sir Albert's energies were committed as much to survival as to running the council, while he fought off attempts by his colleagues to sack him.
After one particularly bitter leadership contest in 2000, which he survived by a majority of one, Sir Albert infuriated his enemies by describing the result as a vote of confidence in his administration. Chutzpah has always been one of his greatest assets.
On another occasion he saw off a challenge by his deputy, who was promptly sacked by his local ward Labour party and retired from public life.
A former nuclear physics lecturer at Aston University, Sir Albert began his political life as a left-winger but moved with the times and is now generally regarded as a moderniser. He was knighted for services to local government.
A driving force behind the economic regeneration of Birmingham from the mid-1990s to 2004, Sir Albert championed city centre pedestrianisation, the new Bullring shopping centre and the redevelopment of Eastside - one of the largest regeneration projects in Britain.
Less successfully, he failed to convince Birmingham that it needed a directly elected mayor.
Nor did he succeed in transferring the city's housing stock and old people's homes to the independent sector, moves which had they been successful would have injected millions of pounds of investment into failing services.
As chairman of the economic development committee in the 1990s, he played a leading role in bringing the International Convention Centre, the National Indoor Arena and the Hyatt Hotel to Birmingham. He was also one of the first to recognise that Birmingham needed to do more to market itself on the international scene.
When he took the council leadership, ending the five-year reign of left-winger Theresa Stewart, Sir Albert promised to deliver policies fit for the modern age and to make Birmingham more European in its way of thinking.
The European aspect - he became chairman of the European Committee of the Regions - provided further ammunition for opponents within the Labour group who suggested the council leader was more interested in Brussels than Birmingham.
But Sir Albert's in-depth knowledge of Europe paid off handsomely in the days when local councils were able to acquire cash grants to fund redevelopment. The ICC, Symphony Hall and the expansion of the National Exhibition Centre would never have been delivered without European money.
What does the future hold for Sir Albert Bore?
His leadership of the council Labour group appears secure for the time being. But Labour's chances of ousting the city's ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in the next five years appear slim.
He has recently become chairman of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust and holds a number of non-executive directorships.
Few would bet against Sir Albert once again occupying the office of the leader of Birmingham City Council if and when the political tide swings back in Labour's favour. He truly deserves his nickname: the great survivor.