Liam Davis is savouring a return to first-team football after being told the operation on his groin this summer was career-threatening.
The full back returned to the Oxford United side last week after six months on the sidelines and started the goalless draw with Torquay United on Saturday.
Davis played through the pain at times last season and had surgery on the injury in May.
But it did not cure the problem and he underwent a more serious operation in July, which proved successful.
It was only after the second procedure that Davis discovered exactly what was at stake if it had not gone well.
He said: “The second one was a bigger operation and it could have gone pear-shaped if things had gone wrong.
“I thank the Lord for getting me through it and back on the pitch.
“(The doctors) said it could have been career-threatening – I don’t like to think about it.
“I’m happy it’s done now to get over it and be back playing again.”
The time out has been a huge blow for Davis, who only missed two league games for the U’s last season after joining from Northampton Town.
It has meant the 25-year-old values every appearance, rather than taking it for granted.
“You appreciate it a bit more,” he said.
After watching the first third of the campaign from the stands, Davis is well placed to assess how the U’s are performing.
While the season has not gone to plan so far, he remains upbeat, saying: “We’re six points outside of the play-offs, so we’re not miles away.
“If you can get four wins on the bounce your whole season changes. We know how this league is and it’s a marathon not a sprint.”