Ryan Mason feels “lucky to be here” and admits the knowledge that playing football again could risk his life has helped him accept the early end to his career.
Mason announced his retirement from playing earlier this week, just under 13 months on from suffering a fractured skull in a sickening clash of heads with Chelsea defender Cary Cahill.
The 26-year-old former Hull and Tottenham midfielder, who won one England cap, told BBC Radio Five Live on Friday: “It’s been quite sad and emotional but at the same time I’ve had so many good luck messages and positive feedback from my career that it has been nice at the same time.
“I’m looking forward to the next chapter now.
“Throughout this last 12 to 13 months it has been a constant battle, but I was always confident that I could get back out on the football pitch.
“But it was probably a week, two weeks ago that I got some pretty conclusive and strong news.”
He added: “I think from day one, recovering, it is just try to be as positive as you can.
“No matter how hard it got, I’ve always been fortunate enough, thinking I’m actually lucky to be here. I always took that mindset.
“I’ve actually been fit and probably waiting really for six or seven months to try to get back out onto the pitch and if someone did give me the all-clear then I probably would have felt pretty confident fitness-wise to go straight back into it.
“It has been difficult because I am physically there.
“But when it is something so sensitive, with your brain and your skull, it does probably make it a little bit easier to accept you are not going to play again, because it could be life-threatening. So that has definitely made it easier.”