Collingwood star Andrew Krakouer says older players should use his amazing comeback from a knee reconstruction as an example of what can be achieved in one season after re-signing with the Magpies for another year yesterday.
Krakouer, 29, thought his career was over when he injured his anterior cruciate ligament in February.
He was out of contract at the end of 2012 and knew Collingwood could ill afford to carry injured players into another campaign.
But he returned to the VFL in August, broke back into the Collingwood team for round 23 and then played in the finals.
Krakouer said the recovery had shown that players don't have to sit out an entire season if they have a knee reconstruction.
"Six months ago, I thought it was my career done," Krakouer said.
"Getting back playing wasn't too much of a reality.
"But to be in the position that I am today, able to sign on for another year and have another crack at it at Collingwood, I'm very excited and very thankful and grateful.
"I think a lot of it is mental. Once you get out there you know you've done all the work. I had no doubt I was able to play at the top level again after my rehab.
"We fast tracked things a fair bit. I was trying to earn myself another contract and pushed things a little bit more than they would usually. Luckily my body held up.
"Other players, if they're older, they might go down that path as well and try to get back in the same year. Younger boys have the time to sit back and get it right for the coming years. People might look to that in the future."
Krakouer said his body felt strong but he would work with his managers at Living Focused Sports to prepare for life after football as a mentor to young people.
He said Collingwood were well-placed to again be a top-four team after recruiting Eagles forward Quinten Lynch, Hawks midfielder Clint Young and Carlton's Jordan Russell. Luke Ball will also return from a knee reconstruction in 2013.
"We've got some experienced players who have been there and played in premierships in Quinten and Clint," Krakouer said.
"It's an exciting time for the club. Everyone in this industry plays footy to win premierships and that's going to be our sole intention.
"We've still got a great list with great leaders and Bucks did a great job. We can really improve."
Krakouer said the Magpies would be challenged by West Coast, especially after they recruited Sharrod Wellingham from the Pies.
"Sharrod's a great fella. It's a big loss to lose a player of his calibre," Krakouer said.
"But I wish him well because family are a very important part of people's lives. I know how hard it is being away from family.
"West Coast have done well and I'm sure he'll do well over there."