Preston North End striker Jermaine Beckford admits that he feared having to retire during the ‘brutal’ illness which left him bed-ridden for three weeks.
The 31-year-old was laid low by an inner ear infection which left him unable to sit up without feeling dizzy or being sick.
He started with the symptoms on January 22 and it was only on the last day of February that he returned to action.
In between was a period of worry and discomfort for the front man, who is loan from Bolton Wanderers.
Thankfully he is almost back to maximum power, Beckford having scored four goals in five appearances since his return.
Such statistics suggest that he is looking to make up for the time lost in a difficult spell of his life.
This weekend he will be hoping to add to that tally when North End face Barnsley at Oakwell.
“It is something I’m thankful is now behind me,” said Beckford.
“I’ve moved on – I’m still not fully fit – but give me another week or two and I will be firing on all cylinders.
“The illness I had meant I could not move. I just had to lay in bed.
“Every time I tried to sit up I would pretty much lose consciousness and pass out.
“I got dizzy, would throw up – it was absolutely brutal.
“After the third week, when I had seen no improvement, I was very worried.
“I wasn’t getting any better and I was pretty sure I was going to have to call it a day soon.
“It got to the stage where I contemplated calling the management to say I could not carry on playing.
“Fortunately enough, I like to push myself, force myself, push the boundaries.
“Bit by bit, day by day, about 24 or 25 days in, I managed to sit up in bed – I felt sick and almost passed out but I realised I could do it.
“That was huge progress from where I had been the week before.
“I genuinely feared for my career. When you can’t sit up and do the simple things in life, how could I play football?
“I’ve still no idea how I got the illness. I woke up on a Thursday morning at 6.30 when the kids got up.
“When I tried to sit up it just happened, there had been no signs or build-up. It came out of the blue and it knocked me for six – it was a very tough time.
“The club doctor was great with me. He was with me a lot and would tell me when I was able to sit up, we would take things from there.
“It has been a case of slowly building back up and one morning, after not having dizzy spells for a few days, I was able to drive to the training ground.
“The staff slowly but surely put me through my paces on the pitch and here I am now.
“Being back playing is a blessing, not having to worry about my balance, falling over and bumping into things.”
Beckford’s scoring record in his time at Deepdale is pretty impressive. He has found the net seven times in 13 starts and five substitute appearances, a decent return bearing everything in mind.
The former Leeds, Everton and Leicester player has started the last two games in a front line also consisting of Joe Garner and Callum Robinson.
When PNE manager Simon Grayson signed Beckford from Bolton, his intention was to pair him in some games with Garner.
However, Garner was injured before Beckford had chance to pull on a Preston shirt and when the top scorer returned 10 weeks later, Beckford was out ill.
The first time they got on the pitch together was last week’s 5-1 win over Crewe.
They shared the goals between them – Garner getting four and Beckford the fifth – and Beckford is impressed with what he has seen from his strike partner.
“Joe is a lot better than I thought and I don’t mean that in a negative way,” said Beckford.
“He has scored a lot of goals and someone’s scoring record is something you take notice of when you’re a striker.
“Until you play alongside Joe, you don’t quite realise the affect and impact he has.
“It is great to play next to him – he is up there in terms of strikers I have played with in my career, without a shadow of doubt.
“I didn’t realise how strong he is and how well he times things when he goes up for headers.
“I had a bit of a laugh with him after the Crewe game when he scored from close in after my shot hit the post.
“That is part and parcel of football – someone else scoring after you have gone close.
“The way I look at it, if the ball hadn’t hit the post and rolled to Joe to score, I might not have gone on to score the fifth goal. It is all about doing well for the team.”
North End take a nine-game unbeaten league run to Barnsley, eight of which they have won.
The run has catapulted them into second place and, having won promotion before from this level with Leeds, Beckford likes what he is seeing from PNE.
He said: “I’m excited to see where the next couple of weeks takes us. We’re in a really good place at the moment and long may that continue.
“As a squad we stick together well here, we pull each other along. It is similar to the last time I was promoted and to the time before that.”