Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard feared his career could have been over during his rehabilitation from a groin injury.
The 31-year-old made his first start for six months against Manchester United on Saturday, his last opponents from the start in the Red of Liverpool.
Gerrard capped his return with a goal against United, but says during his time on the sidelines he worried his career could be cut short.
“It’s only natural that you have doubts,” said Gerrard. “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.”