Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard admits that his career could have been ended by his latest groin injury and says his time on the sidelines was the lowest point as a player.
After picking the injury up last season, Gerrard made his first start in six months against Manchester United and scored a free-kick in the 1-1 draw, but the 31-year-old was concerned that he might not have returned at all.
"It's only natural that you have doubts," Gerrard said. "Different things cross your mind from time to time. When I got the injury I knew it was going to be a serious one, something that I wasn't used to. I'll admit that I was down, as low as I've ever been as a footballer.
"Before the operation I'd been getting niggles and having injections to play. I knew I wasn't right. I was trying to put my body on the line. But it wasn't the real me and I wasn't the player I want to be.
"I was missing training sessions and coming in the day before a game trying to get that last session in, or having injections to play the next day.
"You can only do that for a certain amount of time before your body gives in, and my groin packed in on me.
"When it happened I was down and it took time before I got back in to a positive frame of mind. It probably wasn't until a couple of weeks after the operation, when I got off the crutches, that I started being really positive again. Without a doubt the last six months have been the hardest of my career."