Jason Culina admits he was close to packing it all in, however now he is back he can't wait to repay Sydney for the faith they have shown in him.
New Sydney FC recruit Jason Culina hopes to be ready for action in a couple of weeks as he looks to repay the trust shown in him by the Sky Blues.
Almost a year after he considered retiring due to a chronic knee injury, the 32-year-old's dreams of getting back on the field inched closer on Friday after signing a one-year deal with Sydney.
It's been a long road back to this point for the classy midfielder, who hasn't played for almost two years since he was injured playing for the Qantas Socceroos at the 2011 Asian Cup.
Culina has worked tirelessly in rehabilitation with Sky Blues physio Stan Ivancic for the past four months and believes it won't be long before he's available for selection.
"We're assessing things week-to-week and day-by-day and we're pretty happy the way things are progressing," Culina told reporters.
"I'm feeling good, the physio and medical staff are happy.
"At the end of the day it's up to the coach and coaching staff to decide when I'm ready."
The former PSV Eindhoven and Gold Coast star admitted there were times he was close to packing it all in, content with what he had achieved in a stellar career.
But it was a desire to end things on his terms and prove he could still cut it as a professional which motivated him to work at his recovery and make it back.
"Plus I had absolutely nothing else I could think of doing but play football," Culina said.
"I've been a professional footballer since I was 16. Football is all I know and there was a lot of sleepless nights and days sitting around at home thinking what I was going to do.
"Everything that kept coming back to me was to play football again.
"I didn't want it to finish on those terms getting injured playing for Socceroos.
"I want to keep playing, show how good I am and hopefully give something back to Sydney because they've showed trust, given me an opportunity and hopefully I can give something back to them."
Culina said he still hadn't given up hope of returning to the Socceroos fold but was solely focused on performing for the Sky Blues.
Sydney coach Ian Crook paid tribute to Culina's character and work ethic to get back on the field and believes he could be the key link in the club's hopes of challenging for honours.
"We want to pass the ball and in my unbiased opinion he's the best that there is in our country in doing that," Crook said.
"If we can get him fit, which I know we will and I know he will, he'll be a massive asset to us."
Meanwhile, Crook said he would wait until Saturday to decide on the fitness of young striker Joel Chianese, who sat out the side's final training session due to a quad strain.
If Chianese is ruled out, it's likely Dimitri Petratos will be drafted into the starting side to face Newcastle at Allianz Stadium.