Injured Socceroo Martin Boyle required a knee reconstruction for the past six years - he just didn't know it.
Boyle was ruled out of the World Cup just two days before Australia's opening game in Qatar.
The influential winger, hurt on October 28 playing for his Scottish club Hibernian, was diagnosed with a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee.
Boyle travelled to Qatar and made a brave bid to play.
"It wasn't doom and gloom, there was still an opportunity for me," he told reporters.
"Some players do play through meniscus tears.
"There was a few times where I broke down and nearly threw in the towel.
"We tried a few more procedures but at the end of the day I just knew it wasn't right. I needed surgery."
Boyle went for his operation believing his meniscus was the issue.
He woke post-surgery with his knee reconstructed after a tear to his anterior cruciate ligament was found.
"Basically what I have is a discoid meniscus, where I have got a larger meniscus than normal," he said.
"So that was keeping everything in place. It was keeping my cruciate stable.
"And, long story short, I could have had this ACL injury for about six, seven years and been playing through it.
"I have been trying to digest it myself. You get put to sleep and you wake up and your whole knee has been reconstructed.
"I have played that long with an injury that is severe and when I did damage the meniscus, it has just not been stable enough for my ACL to hold."
The bubbly Boyle has been kept in Qatar by the Socceroos, partly as inspiration for the fit; partly as a self-appointed cheer leader.
"Most of them can be a bit miserable, I think that's why they've kept me around mostly," he joked.
"I'm very appreciative that they have ... it obviously means a lot, it feels like I'm really part of the team.
"Obviously they rate me around the place, which is nice.
"After the win the other day, I was on the pitch, I was part of it all."
Coach Graham Arnold drew Boyle into the centre of the huddle as he spoke to his players after the win - a crutch can even be seen between the thicket of legs in photographs.
"I was buzzing. I had the crutches in the air - the surgeon wasn't happy," added Boyle.
"But I'm the first one to praise everyone. I am part of it.
"There's nothing to be jealous about. I'll be there every step of the way to support my teammates."
Australian Associated Press
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