West Bromwich Albion captain Jonathan Greening has revealed the personal sacrifice he made in helping to secure the Baggies' promotion to the Premier League.
The midfielder played through the pain barrier during the final weeks of the season, suffering a double hernia problem and he has only now gone under the surgeon's knife to rectify the problem.
Greening, says the operation has been a success and he hopes to be back fit and raring to go for Albion's busy pre-season schedule which kicks off in July.
The former Manchester United and Middlesbrough star, who has set himself the target of returning on July 3 when manager Tony Mow-bray will assemble his troops for pre-season training, said: "I felt the problem over the last 12 to 15 games but it was not so much the pain during the match, as what I felt at home afterwards.
"It was hard getting off the sofa, getting out of bed and getting out of the car. I really started feeling it during the last four or five games but even when it was really painful I decided to continue because it was okay once the adrenalin kicked in.
"I could have pulled out of a few training sessions but you don't want to when you are at the stage of the season that you are going for promotion. I probably should have had a few days off from training but I wanted us to get promoted so badly.
"To be fair I did not really tell the physiotherapist until there were only around three games to go because I did not want the gaffer to know about it. If he knew I had a hernia, then he might think I was struggling and substitute me in games.
"I don't think the manager actually found out about it until the end of the season so it was mine and the physio's secret. It was quite a well-guarded one!"
Greening was the only Baggies' player to start every one of the 46 league games of the season and insisted it was worth every second of the pain he had to endure. The 29-year-old Scarborough-born player added: "I was enjoying being captain and I did not want anyone to know. I was enjoying being captain and wanted to keep the consistency in the side.
"I just wanted to carry on playing and I didn't want to give the manager any excuse to drop me. I felt that was my responsibility as captain.
"After we had clinched promotion with the win over Southampton on the Monday night, I could have missed the last game of the season but I wanted to help us beat Queens Park Rangers and, of course, I wanted to be the one to lift the Championship trophy."
Greening added: "I am still a bit sore now but delighted the operation has been done. I feel I am walking a bit like John Wayne at the moment and I am not allowed to do anything for a week.
"Then I will just gradually build up in the gym to use the bike and do a bit of jogging. Hopefully I will be back come pre-season."