West Ham defender Danny Gabbidon has expressed his relief at making his return to playing after 18 months out of action.
The Hammers' Wales international missed the whole of last season with his last appearance for the club coming against Chelsea in January 2008.
Gabbidon has been suffering with a complicated abdominal problem, although he is now set to return to training after undergoing career-saving surgery.
West Ham gave the 29-year-old special permission to play in a charity fixture in Cardiff this weekend and much to the defender's delight he came though the contest unscathed.
"I have been back in training since the end of last season and I asked West Ham if I could play in the Legends game," he told the club's official website.
"They gave me the go-ahead and it was a great feeling to be back playing. The new stadium is fantastic. I love it."
Gabbidon has conceded there were times during his long lay-off that he mulled over the possibility that his career might indeed be over.
"You do get down and wonder when you're going to get back. But you have to stay positive as negative thoughts don't help," he continued.
"My wife has bore the brunt of my frustrations when I used to come home from training miserable and she and my family are the ones who have been there to support and encourage me.
"It is tough not being able to do the job that you love and something you take for granted when you're playing regularly.
"When you see your team-mates playing you want to be out there so it makes you more determined to get back out there with your mates. The experience has made me love the game more."