Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby has told L'Equipe he thought of ending his career during his year-long recovery from a serious knee injury.
Diaby, who turns 28 on Sunday, was on the bench for the Gunners' 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, but did not get to feature for the first time since rupturing the cruciate ligaments in his left knee during a training session 13 months ago.
And the France international has revealed there were times during his rehabilitation that he considered never returning to the pitch at all, finally beaten by the latest in a long line of injuries that have stunted his career growth.
"You ask yourself whether you're going to still be a footballer. You think of giving up everything. I said to myself: 'I'm sick of this! I'm quitting!' I spoke about it with my parents, my brothers, my sisters, my friends...Then, I got up one morning: 'No, out of the question!'" said Diaby, who would have returned earlier only for an infection in his knee requiring further surgery in October.
"I had to start from scratch. But given where I'd been, it didn't really matter. It's been tough because I've had a lot of injuries. I'm religious, and in my belief, despair doesn't exist. You must never give in. Also, I'm only 27, soon 28. I still have five or six years ahead of me, perhaps more."
The former Auxerre man has not featured in an Arsenal shirt since a 2-0 win over Swansea City on March 16, 2013.
He does hope he can play some part in the final Premier League game of the campaign against Norwich City on Sunday, before featuring in the FA Cup final against Hull City on May 17.
"If my black season could end with a cup final victory, that would be marvellous," said Diaby, who has all but given up hope of adding to his 16 international caps at this summer's World Cup.
"There are two games left, you have to be realistic. But if I could be the 23rd man on the plane for Brazil... I dream of that."