Roma defender Federico Balzaretti admits he fears his career may be over as he fights with a troublesome groin injury that has already sidelined him for nearly a year.
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Balzaretti, 32, who has offered to reduce his salary while he continues his rehabilitation, says he cannot run despite undergoing two operations to help rectify the problem.
"Right now, all I've got is hope," he said at a news conference in Rome. "I don't know if or when I will return to play again, but I'm going to give it all I've got."
The former Juventus defender's last appearance was on Nov. 10 last year. Since then, he has gone under the knife twice to address his athletic pubalgia, a groin injury that became so painful at one stage he even had some nerves cut to relieve him.
"I felt this pain for the first time 10 months ago at [Roma's training ground] Trigoria," Balzaretti explained. "Since I'd never felt this kind of thing before, I just thought it would pass. After the game against Sassuolo, I couldn't even walk. The bones near my pubic bone no longer had any cartilage.
"I went to America and the operation gave positive results, then I went for another operation in Munich to get rid of some nerves that were causing me pain, but it didn't get me anywhere. Now, I sleep at night with an electromagnetic blanket, but unfortunately this pain could stick with me forever. My problem is I can't even run."
Rather than improving, Balzaretti admits the injury is getting worse, which is why he has offered to reduce his salary.
"The scan I had last week was a major blow," he said. "Not only had things not improved, they had actually deteriorated. That's why I am here to say I don't know when I will play again, but I'm going to give it all I can. I need physiotherapy for several more months before I can try a comeback.
"I've told the president that they can do anything they want -- I've given them carte blanche. But here, they treat you like people and not just footballers and they've treated me like part of a family. I feel a responsibility towards my teammates. I want to suffer and celebrate with them, but I'm always close to them.
"I can't say more than this. Well, actually, what I do want to say is don't ask me any questions about a future as a coach because I want to try to be a footballer again."