Linfield star Bastien Hery has revealed he considered walking away from football after a difficult spell in England.
ut an escape route to the Republic of Ireland and then on to Belfast allowed the 28-year-old Frenchman to finally fulfil a lifetime ambition by playing in the Champions League with Linfield last year.
It was a crowning achievement for a player whose career started off with Paris Saint-Germain in his native city, then took him to Sheffield Wednesday, Rochdale, Carlisle United and Accrington Stanley, where his progress stalled.
A spell in the League of Ireland with Limerick and Waterford revived his career before he followed Pat Fenlon from Waterford to Windsor Park, where he won the Danske Bank Premiership last season.
"Accrington was very hard for me mentally," Hery says.
"I was feeling good and doing well, but I was not playing games and in January the manager just said to me, 'It's not working' and we worked something out.
"My partner at the time was pregnant so it was tough, so the biggest fear for me was how I was going to provide for my baby.
"What drives me is my daughter, who lives with her mum in France, everything I do is for her. It was tough.
"I don't know what I would have done had I stopped playing football, but that's how it is, you go here, you play, you go there, you don't play.
"Accrington was really hard and I was nearly ready to quit football, so I thought I needed a fresh start.
"I didn't know anything about football in Ireland, but I just went (to Limerick). I heard the top four teams in Ireland played in Europe and that for me was the attraction.
"I was ready to wait to play in Europe, you can't expect it to happen immediately, and I was really enjoying my football in Ireland. I really enjoyed it.
"Waterford got promoted, and I went for them. We had a really successful season that year, we qualified for Europe, but we weren't allowed to play (having reformed in 2016, Waterford did not pass the three-year standard for 'new' clubs).
"Then the Linfield move was really quick. I think we found out in March that we would not play in Europe, by June Pat (Fenlon) rang me to ask if I would be interested in coming to Linfield and play in Europe.
"I said, 'Yes, of course' because I was gutted we couldn't play in Europe with Waterford so I came up here. It happened really quickly.
"My first game was at home against Rosenborg in the Champions League, my debut, and I was so happy to play and also because I did well. I was disappointed with the result but Rosenborg are a big club.
"If someone had said when I was a boy growing up in Paris that I would play Rosenborg in the Champions League for a team from Belfast, I would not have believed it!
"The European run was unbelievable, all the games in the campaign were incredible. We were so together and so up for it, travelling together, staying together, you make it good for each other."
Unfortunately for Linfield, this year's European run began brightly but hit the buffers against Floriana of Malta last week, a loss that caused Hery a sleepless night.
"I didn't get to sleep until 6 o'clock in the morning, that's the truth," says the Parisian, whose English is near perfect.
"You just think about what you did, what you didn't do, what you could have done better, these things go through your mind, especially when you play badly and lose.
"We had a really bad start and conceded early. We played poorly as a team, we weren't up for it and I don't know why, I have no explanation.
"Manager David Healy looks after us, he takes care of us, but sometimes he cracks up. He cracked up last week when we lost in Europe. He was mad.
"We tried but it was almost like going through the motions, we didn't try hard enough. I was gutted.
"After the run we had last year, who wouldn't expect us to do well again this year? Even us as players, we hoped we could have another good campaign, but that's football.
"Nobody expects you to do less well in football, everyone expects you to do better than the year before.
"Demands are high and everyone wants to beat us in every game because when you wear the five stars on your shirt, that makes a difference.
"It was the same when I was a kid playing for PSG, everyone wanted to beat you. As a team, home or away, everyone wants to beat us - even once in a season, they will be happy.
"If we want to play in the Champions League again next year, we have to win the League again but I know this year will be one of the hardest seen in Northern Ireland because more clubs are going full-time.
"We go again. We have to. It will be a tough season but we have to defend our title."
Before the domestic campaign kicks off, however, Hery will turn his attentions to international football as he bids to make his senior international debut for Madagascar.
Born himself in the suburbs of Paris, Hery's parents are from Reunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar.
But after his father did a bit of digging into the family history, the Linfield midfielder got the call up to play against Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.
"It happened really quickly," says Hery. "The manager told me I had blood from Madagascar because where my parents are from, Reunion Island, is just next to Madagascar.
"I asked my dad, we did some research and found out my granddad is from there so I am qualified.
"I was called up to play against Ivory Coast in March before it was cancelled, now I have been called up for a friendly game next month against Burkina Faso before the two games against the Ivory Coast.
"I don't think they will beat us, because in the last Africa Cup of Nations Madagascar got to the Quarter-Finals, the best they have ever done.
"Football in Africa is crazy! Everyone loves it. I have to play well next month if I hope to play against Ivory Coast, that's up to me.
"I have never been to Madagascar. I have been to Reunion a lot but not Madagascar, hopefully I will go soon.
"It's a new experience and I have to show what I can do on the pitch, so I'll just focus on what I can do this season and see where it takes me.
"I just want to enjoy the moment. I get that from my dad."