Wales defender James Collins will go to the 2016 European Championships this summer having feared eight years ago his playing career was over.
The 32-year-old suffered a knee ligament injury in January 2008 playing for West Ham United’s reserves.
Collins says he was “virtually in tears” as he feared the worst during a scan on
“That’s all that was in my head. I’m thinking this is never going to be the same again,” he told Sport Wales.
The Newport-born player added: “I remember at my age looking at the fact that a cruciate knee injury – you used to see players not come back from it.”
Collins made his Wales debut as a 20-year-old in a youthful team fielded by then-manager Mark Hughes for
The former Cardiff City player says injuries have restricted his international appearances, but is relishing what lies ahead in France in the summer.
“I think I made my debut when I was 20 maybe. I am 32 now and only to be on 46 caps is not enough, really,” Collins said.
“I’ve pulled out of a lot of games through injury and I was out for two years from international football with my knee.”
Collins says “persistent calf problems” have also limited his Wales career.
“Every time there was a Wales trip coming around I seemed to be out,” he added. “I wasn’t playing at my club and obviously I was missing the Wales games.
“So to be involved now still, at 32, and having touched this successful (Welsh) period and enjoying it more than I ever have, is great.
“A while ago, looking at my Welsh career I thought it would probably never happen and to be involved and hopefully going into it (Euro 2016) playing well in a tremendous Welsh team is very exciting.”
Watch Sport Wales, BBC Two Wales from 21:00 GMT on Friday night or catch up on iPlayer.