Aston Villa's promising starlet Craig Gardner has revealed that his career nearly came to a close before it got started.
The 20-year-old has broken into Villa's first team ranks this season under Martin O'Neill's tenure and has demonstrated considerable promise with a series of polished displays.
However, while the boyhood Villa fan is presently living his dream, a groin injury sustained earlier in the season threatened to turn into a nightmare, with the fear being that his playing days could be ended prematurely.
"The physios never told me how serious the injury was. I didn't find out until I was fit again," said Gardner.
"When I did it, I thought it was just a minor sort of problem which would take two or three weeks to clear. But, as time went on, I began to realise it was something serious.
"Once I was back, it was then that the staff told me I was lucky to have got over it and be able to resume playing.
"Apparently it was a very rare injury and the tendons had come away from the muscle so perhaps it's just as well I didn't realise how serious it was."
Club medics kept Gardner in the dark with regards the extent of the injury and having now put it behind him, it is with relief that he looks to establish himself in Villa's starting line-up.
"But it's a relief to be over it and now I feel good and am looking forward rather than back," he concluded.
"I'm now determined to fight for my place and get as many first-team games under my belt as I can.
"It was a big setback when I was sidelined and it was like starting all over again. I just battled and battled, both on the training ground and in the gym.
"I was a bit surprised to go straight back into the starting line-up (at Blackburn) two or three weeks ago, but I'm just grateful to the manager for giving me my chance and hopefully I've repaid him a bit."