Nick Clegg considered resigning 12 months before he finally quit in the wake of the Liberal Democrats' catastrophic losses in the general election, it has been reported.
The Guardian said the then deputy prime minister discussed standing down after the party suffered heavy losses in the May 2014 European and local council elections which saw it reduced to just one MEP.
He was quoted as telling one colleague: "If I believe - and I am very close to thinking it - I am the problem and not the solution, I have to stand to one side".
However he was said to have been persuaded to carry on by his closest advisers, including former leader Lord Ashdown, as well as the Lim Dem MP Tim Farron who was seen as his most likely successor.
Following the results, a red-eyed Mr Clegg appeared in a BBC interview to admit they were "gutting" and "frankly heart breaking", but he insisted the thought of resignation "has never crossed my mind".
Mr Farron told The Guardian that when he spoke to Mr Clegg he found him "just distraught about everything" and "he felt personally every single loss".
"I just thought this could end up in a bloodbath and we're far better off sticking with the captain who has done nothing to deserve this," he said.
Lord Ashdown said Mr Clegg had quickly bounced back from the setback.
"It was astonishing the speed from which he moved from the darkest of the dark nights of the soul to utterly on form, utterly clear about what he was doing," he said.