Barcelona defender Eric Abidal insists it never crossed his mind to quit football during his fight to recover from a liver transplant.
Abidal returned to training with his Barca team-mates last week, eight months after undergoing his transplant operation.
The Frenchman, who previously had surgery to remove a tumour from his liver in March 2011, has not played for Barca since last February but the 33-year-old has never given up hope of making a comeback.
“I feel good. I’m eager to fight and to return. At times it was tough when I woke up in the morning, but little by little I’ve trained with the aim of returning and this helped me,” he said in an interview on Catalan television channel TV3.
“I never thought about stopping playing because football, apart from my family, is my whole life.”
He added: “I really wanted to start kicking the ball again. I knew that once I’d touched it again, the path to recovery was a little shorter.
“You always need to try it. If you don’t do it, you don’t know if you can. That’s why I wanted to train, to know if I was capable.”
Abidal’s return to training last week was overshadowed by news that Barca coach Tito Vilanova had suffered a relapse in his battle with cancer.
The 44-year-old Vilanova underwent surgery on his parotid gland last Thursday and now faces around six weeks of chemotherapy. Vilanova first had a tumour removed from his throat last year.
Abidal said: “Tito and I have gone through similar things, and we think differently to others. Without saying anything we know what the other is thinking. I make an effort for myself, but also for him.”