Louis Saha has admitted he felt “ashamed” to face his Manchester United team-mates during his long-running injury crisis.
After exploding onto the Old Trafford scene with six goals in his first eight games following his £12.8m (€18.8m) move from Fulham two years ago, Saha has been plagued by fitness problems.
Initially, he was sidelined by an Achilles injury, then he aggravated a knee problem on international duty and the start of the current campaign was wrecked by a strained hamstring.
So frequent were Saha’s absences, one fanzine cruelly dubbed the 27-year-old ‘Man of Glass’.
Those taunts only contributed to the striker’s dark moods and although he has now emerged from his nightmare in thrilling style, he admits he struggled to look his United team-mates in the eye at times.
“It was a mental torture,” he told the Manchester Evening News.
“There was guilt and embarrassment. You are kind of ashamed about the situation. You start wondering what other players are saying about you.
“Instead of just accepting it as bad luck and getting on with the treatment and looking forward, I was looking back too much.
“I was always thinking I had done something to bring it on. I analysed everything so closely. But that was wrong, it just got me very down.”
There was a strong suggestion Saha might even be sacrificed by Alex Ferguson during last month’s transfer window as the United boss looked to beef up his squad.
Yet, with the player’s fitness improving, Ferguson revealed selling Saha was never an option.
“I never thought about letting Louis go, not at all,” said the Scot.
Ferguson’s patience has been rewarded by an outstanding run of form which has seen Saha score eight times in nine appearances, including one in each of the last three games.
Snatching the goalscoring headlines in a side containing Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney is no mean feat.
Saha can be reasonably confident of keeping his place for tomorrow’s visit of old club Fulham to Old Trafford even though Van Nistelrooy is likely to return.
“I am not going to get carried away but I am delighted with the way things are going,” he said. “I have not felt as fit and sharp as this since I first arrived at United.”