Manchester United goalkeeper Victor Valdes has revealed in an interview with El Pais that he came close to retiring during his 10-month rehabilitation from cruciate ligament damage.
Valdes, 33, required an operation after suffering the knee injury during Barcelona’s La Liga clash against Celta Vigo in March, before leaving the Catalan giants at the end of his contract in the summer.
The Spanish shot-stopper struggled to find a new club after a move to Monaco fell through due to concerns about his health, before he was reunited with former Barca manager Louis van Gaal at United in October, when the Dutchman handed him the chance to train with the team during his rehab.
Going on to earn an 18-month deal with the club this month after proving his fitness, the 20-times capped international has admitted that the thought of retirement crossed his mind several times during his time out of the game.
“I was close to retiring but I have three children," he told the Spanish newspaper. "I knew I was going to hurt my knee. Everything was going too well for me and I knew I was going to hurt it.
“I knew from the beginning it was broken. When I tried to support the leg I heard a crunch in the knee and I knew it was broken."
With David de Gea entrenched as United’s number one, Valdes made his comeback in the Under-21s’ 2-1 win over their Liverpool counterparts last week, but it remains to be seen how limited his first-team opportunities will be moving forward.
However, despite being hailed as one of the top keepers in the world during his time at Barca, the three-time Champions League-winner concedes that De Gea deserves to be the long-term starter given his recent form.
"[David is] the best goalkeeper in the world right now, in terms of pure performance,” he added.
Nevertheless, with United's number one the subject of ongoing Real Madrid rumours, Van Gaal might need Valdes to stick around Old Trafford for the foreseeable future.