Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon admits he feared for his career during a torrid battle with a knee injury.
The Scotland stopper helped Celtic lift the Scottish Cup on Saturday to complete a domestic treble of trophies.
But prior to joining the club in 2014, an unusual knee tendon problem sidelined Gordon for almost two years.
“It was a long, hard road and at times I didn’t know if it was possible to even play football, never mind win trophies,” he told BBC Scotland.
The 2-1 cup final victory over Aberdeen meant Brendan Rodgers’ side became the first in Scottish history to win all three domestic competitions without losing a fixture.
“To be at the top level again, and having a season like this – this will go down as the best season of my career, I can’t see it ever being topped or done again, certainly not while I’m still playing,” Gordon added.
“It’s an incredible achievement, something that, after we’ve all finished playing, we can look back on and I’m sure in years to come the fans will celebrate this season as one of the best in the club’s history.”
Unity key to Celtic’s success
Gordon, who signed a new Celtic deal in March, says he began to believe an unbeaten domestic season was possible during the Scottish Premiership’s winter break in January.
“We went away to Dubai (during the winter break) and the squad were together,” Gordon said. “It just felt like there was a real togetherness, one of the best squad environments I’ve ever been in, for players that haven’t even been playing to support the team.
“Everybody gets on, there’s nobody in the squad that you wouldn’t get on with, and I think that makes a huge difference.
“There’s no fighting, just everyone pulling in the one direction. The manager’s been right behind that from the start, to create that atmosphere, and it’s carried us all the way through this season.”
The Rodgers effect
The veteran stopper, who has 158 Celtic appearances to his name, admits it will be extremely difficult for the squad to better its achievements next season.
And Gordon insists the footballing intelligence and shrewd man-management of boss Rodgers has been pivotal to Celtic’s prolific success.
“He’s made a huge difference,” Gordon asserted. “Tactically, he’s very good – he sets the team up really well, gives us a chance to go and exploit the other team in areas that they are weaker.
“He’s just very clever. Psychologically, he’s great with the players. He very rarely raises his voice, he’s always got a way of putting it tactically to make sure nobody’s getting upset.
“We stay calm regardless of what’s going on and he’s a big part behind that.
“We really couldn’t have done an awful lot more domestically (this season) – three trophies, unbeaten, that just doesn’t happen.
“It has to be Europe – we have to go in there, qualify for the Champions League again and see if we can finish above fourth (in the group stages).”