Danny Drinkwater admits he feared his Premier League dream was over when he left Manchester United, adding that the presence of "idol" Paul Scholes may have played a part in his departure.
The 26-year-old was sold by United while on loan at Barnsley around four years ago, and despite now facing the prospect of a first-ever England call-up, the midfielder says he took the news hard.
According to The Independent, Drinkwater told reporters at St George's Park.
"My lowest point in football? Probably leaving United. I supported them, it was my childhood club and all that.
"I was on loan at Barnsley, United accepted an offer and that was it really. I just had to concentrate on my new club. It was a low, but look what has come of it."
England take on old rivals Germany in Munich on Saturday, before returning to Wembley to take on the Netherlands on Tuesday and, if Drinkwater can earn his first international cap, it would be the latest memorable chapter in what has been a sensational season for the midfielder.
But, although he still cannot help but think back on what might have been at Old Trafford, he claims the experience set him up well for the rest of his career.
"People like Paul Scholes were blocking my path, so what are you going to do with that?" he added. "You just look at him as an idol. I have watched him since I was a little kid, so I couldn’t have had much of a better teacher."
Drinkwater's call up to the England squad comes on the back of an impressive run of form for Leicester - the club that took him on following his time at United - and is relishing their unlikely Premier League title challenge.
"When I left, in the back of my mind I thought it [a top-level career] was probably half-gone, but I have worked hard.
"I have got into a team at Leicester where everything ticks, everything works well. It is a good club and it was always going to move forward. You can always have self-belief but leaving a club like United was huge. Still, look where we are now."
Manchester United may well be watching Drinkwater's with much interest given their current difficulties, but he insists he is still the same player.
"A lot of hard work has gone into getting where I am now and the whole team is doing well," he continued. "I guess when the whole team is doing well and you are at the top, people take note of what you are doing. I haven’t changed as a player."