Paul Scholes has admitted at Christmas last year he thought he would have retired by now.
The veteran Manchester United star is currently one of the most talked about players in the Premier League.
Fabio Capello tried - and failed - to talk him out of international retirement in order to play a part in England's ultimately dismal World Cup campaign and successive man-of-the-match performances in the Community Shield and opening day Premier League win over Newcastle confirm the 35-year-old is on top form once more.
Yet, while 2010 will go down as one of Scholes' best years as a professional, in his eyes, 2009 was one of the worst.
And, in a special interview for MUTV with former United European Cup winner Paddy Crerand, Scholes acknowledged things were so bad, he was seriously considering whether to hang up his boots.
"At Christmas last season I did not think I would be playing in this one," he admitted.
"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, Sir Alex Ferguson had other ideas.
The United boss reassured Scholes he was still making a valuable contribution to the Red Devils cause and after taking the club to within a point of what would have his 10th Premier League title, Capello made his move.
Scholes has already admitted he regrets saying no to the under-fire England chief.
However, the summer break does mean he is fresh at the moment and ready to make a positive impact when his appearances start to get rationed as the games mount up.
"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," he 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 has now sidelined any talk of retirement and intends to keep going as long as he legs can carry him.
Ferguson recently spoke of the possibility United's ageing heroes could maintain a career at the highest level until they were 40.
Yet even that date is not too far away, leaving the Salford-born star to contemplate what lies ahead.
"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."Reuse content