Luke Shaw revealed he almost lost his leg in the horror injury that led the Manchester United defender to consider quitting the sport.
Now, after three tough years, the rejuvenated left-back is more determined than ever to confound the doubters and reach the top.
Shaw could this week make his first England start since facing Switzerland in September 2015 – just a week before suffering a hideous double leg break in a Champions League match at PSV Eindhoven.
It cruelly halted an exceptional start to his second season at Old Trafford – yet it was nearly so much worse.
“I nearly lost my leg,” Shaw said. “I was really close to actually losing my leg. I never knew that until six months later when the doctor told me.
“At the time, they were thinking about flying me back (from Holland) and if I’d have flown back, I would probably have lost my leg because of the blood clots and stuff in the leg.
“I’ve got – I don’t want to talk about it too much – two scars down the side of my leg where they had to cut it open and pull them out because of how severe it was.
“But I don’t really care about that anymore. I feel really strong – and my right leg is exactly as it was before my leg break.”
Shaw feels better than ever and is driven to succeed having won over Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and earned an England recall.
It leaves the 23-year-old grateful to those who supported him through the dark times, from friends and family and those at United to the psychologist he has seen since the injury.
Shaw continued: “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes think about stopping playing football.
“But I had a lot of good people around me, a lot of good friends and family. They helped me through it.
“But this is what I want to be doing. I want to be playing in the biggest games possible, I want to be winning trophies, I want to be doing this kind of stuff.
“That’s my motivation and I want to one day be recognised as one of the best full-backs in the world.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do but that motivation is there really highly, and I want to do that.
“I had a lot of complications with my leg and that was the really hard moment for me in my career.
“But, like I said, that’s in the past. Whatever happened has happened, and I don’t care about that any more. I care about what’s happening now, right here, right today and forwards.
“Everyone really seems picks up the negative stuff…the way I was going, it was easy to write stories about everything that was bad. But no-one wrote anything good that (was) said.
“I am sure all of them would have said good things about me. But it was never noted down, was it? Nobody said anything about that, so it was always negative stuff.”
Shaw does, though, recognise that there were times when he got comfortable and took his “foot off the pedal”, but he has now “changed from a kid to a man”.
It leaves the 23-year-old proud and privileged to be back in the England squad and relishing the opportunity to help build from the summer’s World Cup semi-final performance.
“It’s human nature to be gutted but also extremely proud of the way the team was,” the left-back said, reflecting on missing out on Russia and looking ahead to Saturday’s UEFA Nations League opener against Spain.
“The way we connected with the fans and how much everyone enjoyed that. I think the way the whole World Cup went, we connected even more with the fans than we had over the past four or five years.
“It’s good for them as well to be able to cherish that because they’ve not had it for a long time.
“Long may that continue with the youth we’ve got, there’s a lot to look forward to.”