Manchester United veteran Paul Scholes has admitted he missed the game more than he ever imagined following his retirement last summer.
The 37-year-old stunned most observers by returning to the game this month, more than six months after announcing his decision to quit.
It is not a career path he expected last summer, when he opted to do some coaching alongside reserve-team boss Warren Joyce. Speaking to MUTV, he admitted: "At the end of last season, I thought it was the right time to finish."
He added: "But after coming in here for the last three or four months, still seeing people and doing a bit of training with the reserves, I was missing it more than I thought.
"I went to see the manager and said that I wanted to come back playing.
"I didn't know what he would say. I didn't know what his reaction would be. Thankfully, it was a positive one."
Scholes, half-jokingly, denied his retirement, five months after that of long-time team-mate Gary Neville, was purely a ruse to get out of a lengthy pre-season tour to the United States.
"Part of it was," he said. "I didn't fancy going to America for three weeks, I know that.
"No, in all seriousness, I never thought I would miss it as much as I did. Ask any player who has finished, they will all miss it for a period of time.
"I missed it and decided to give it another go."