Fremantle star Michael Barlow has revealed he feared for his quality of life after football as the leg which he broke almost two years ago continually hurt after games this season.
Barlow is approaching the second anniversary of his horrific injury on July 3, 2010 and has played well in recent weeks.
He had 28 possessions and kicked a goal against Essendon on Saturday night and said his form had coincided with his ability to recover well from games and complete extra training sessions.
Barlow said finally waking up pain free had been an enormous relief because he'd been worrying about the future as the soreness lingered.
"It was an issue there for a while," Barlow said.
"It's only in the last six weeks to two months that everyday life has become pretty enjoyable.
"I can go down to the beach and have a run around or a throw around of a gridiron ball or what-ever you want to do. I can do those little things rather than being limited in everyday life which is good.
"Obviously you want to play footy and do that, but there were some stages there where I was concerned about my long-term future, what I'd be able to do after footy, if I'd be able to run and that sort of thing.
"It's amazing within the space of a couple of weeks I've been able to get rid of that pain."
Barlow has played every game this year but, in a sign of how difficult he found the recovery, des-cribed himself as "a week-to-week prospect" earlier in the season.
Barlow is looking forward to building on his fitness with extra training sessions and his confidence in the leg passed a significant and scary test against the Bombers.
"I nearly broke it again," Barlow said. "Nick Lower tackled someone right on to it and it went over but luckily the force wasn't as heavy.
"Physically I am stoked I've come out the other end of it.
"I was playing with a fair bit of pain earlier in the year.
"Nothing that would have kept me out of playing, but it was keeping me 20 per cent off what I'd want to be able to do.
"Right now I'm edging up to full fitness and I'm pain free."
Barlow will play a key role in Saturday's clash with Collingwood at the MCG.
The Pies haven't lost since round three and have beaten Fremantle in five of their past six matches.
Barlow said Fremantle couldn't afford to let the Magpies gain control of the game like Essendon did in the final term. The Bombers kicked the last six goals to turn a 17-point deficit into a 24-point win.
"That little lapse that we have in games where we give them a couple in a row, or we're not hard enough or we're second to the ball for five or six minutes, that really hurts us," Barlow said.
"Against a team like Collingwood, that just can't happen." <div class="endnote">