Andrea Pirlo has admitted that he "thought about quitting" after losing the 2005 Champions League final with AC Milan against Liverpool.
The Italian midfielder has announced his intention to retire in December, bringing to an end a hugely successful career at the top of the game.
But he has revealed that, such was the devastation of defeat in Istanbul, he considered prematurely retiring.
"I thought about quitting because, after Istanbul, nothing made sense any more," he told the Daily Mail. "The 2005 Champions League final simply suffocated me.
"When that torture of a game was finished, we sat like a bunch of half-wits in the dressing room there at the Atatürk Stadium. We couldn’t speak. We couldn’t move. They’d mentally destroyed us.
"The damage was already evident even in those early moments, and it only got more stark and serious as the hours went on. Insomnia, rage, depression, a sense of nothingness. We’d invented a new disease with multiple symptoms: Istanbul syndrome.
"I glimpsed the end of the line: the journey was over. The story was finished and so was I."
Though the loss clearly had a damaging effect on Pirlo and his teammates, he has stressed that positives can be drawn even from the worst moments of a career.
"There are always lessons to be found in the darkest moments," he said. "It’s a moral obligation to dig deep and find that little glimmer of hope or pearl of wisdom.
"You might hit upon an elegant phrase that stays with you and makes the journey that little less bitter. I’ve tried with Istanbul and haven’t managed to get beyond these words: for f***’s sake."