Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has revealed that he feared he would have to retire before he underwent surgery to save his career.
Fletcher, 29, made his first appearance for almost a year as a substitute in the 3-0 win over Aston Villa on Sunday, but the Scotland international, who suffered from the bowel condition ulcerative colitis, thought his playing days could be at an end in the summer.
He said: "There was a day in about May when we said: 'This is it.' If the operation was not a success there was no way I would be able to play football. Once I came out of that operation it was going to be 'this has either worked or it hasn't'. It was a very emotional day.
"There was a lot of fear and anxiety. I was in the hands of an unbelievable surgeon. I put all my trust in him. He was confident, as long as I did everything right. He was confident all the tests were right. That moment came. It was such a relief."
Fletcher had struggled with illness for almost three years and revealed that the debilitating problem left him so weak he was housebound.
He added: "I couldn't leave the house, it was as simple as that. I couldn't take my kids to the park. Simple stuff. I couldn't go for a meal with my wife, just because of the nature of the illness. There was the exhaustion side of it as well. It was proving difficult. I always had a belief that one of the medications would work. Unfortunately that wasn't the case."
However, he now believes an operation has cured him and he is confidence he will not suffer a setback in the future.
He added: "I am back to normal. I am standing here now, I do not have ulcerative colitis. I have come through that now. I am back playing football in the Premier League. It has all been a success."