Rio Ferdinand has revealed he kept the extent of his back injury a secret from Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ferdinand, 31, has made just eight Premier League appearances for the champions this season after sitting out three months of the campaign.
His much-criticised performance in a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool back in October brought matters to a head as Ferguson demanded answers from the defender over the extent of his long-running back problem.
The England captain will come up against his tormentor that day, Fernando Torres, when United host their bitter rivals at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon.
"The day after a game I would waddle into the club like a duck, bent over like an old hunchback," he told the News of the World.
"I would be hobbling around, unable to train for four or five days. I would be okay to play the next game, but I must have missed 60-70 per cent of training.
"If I'm honest, I didn't make it clear to the gaffer and the club physios that my injury was that serious.
"I just had an incredible desire to play football and had never had to deal with an injury of this scale before.
"But I was summoned into the manager's office after the Liverpool defeat.
"He told me: 'Last season, Torres would not have scored that goal against you'. As soon as he said that, you sit up and take notice.
"When the manager tells you something like that it hits home. So we made a decision to rest it completely before I could return to the team."