Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes has revealed that he felt certain he would retire at the end of last season, after struggling for form during a poor first half of the 2009-10 campaign.
Scholes, 35, has enjoyed a sensational start to the new season and man-of-the-match performances against Chelsea in the Community Shield and Newcastle in United's opening Premier League fixture, have led to renewed calls for him to come out of international retirement.
It is difficult to believe that less than a year ago he was contemplating retirement, but Scholes admits that last December he felt that he could no longer influence games at the highest level in the way he once had.
"At Christmas last season I did not think I would be playing in this one,'' Scholes told MUTV. "I wasn't playing well enough.
"The season before last I had an injury for three months and then from Christmas onwards my form wasn't brilliant. Leading up to Christmas last year it still wasn't great.
"I wasn't playing as much as I would have liked but you need to be playing well to get into the team. I set myself high standards. I want to feel as though I am contributing to the team. If I am not doing that what is the point of being here.''
Fortunately for Scholes, Sir Alex Ferguson saw his indifferent form merely as a blip, and managed to convince the former England midfielder that he still had the ability to make a valuable contribution to the 11-time Premier League champions.
"The manager has handled me, Ryan and Gary the same way for the last couple of seasons and I am sure this season will be no different,'' Scholes said.
"If I am playing well enough, maybe I will play 25 or 30 games. You want to play every game but at our age, you can't.''
Scholes now believes he can keep going for as long as his body will let him, but revealed that when the time comes to hang up his boots, he has no plans to quit the sport entirely.
"I want to stay in football,'' he said. "I started my coaching badges towards the end of last season. Hopefully I can get the first part done at some point this year.''