Andrea Pirlo has revealed he almost retired following AC Milan's disastrous defeat to Liverpool in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final.
Milan surrendered a three-goal lead as Liverpool claimed the Champions League trophy on penalties in one of the most memorable matches of football at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium nine years ago.
Hernan Crespo's brace and a goal from Paolo Maldini helped Carlo Ancelotti's men to a seemingly unassailable 3-0 lead at the half-time interval.
But three goals in six minutes from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso restored parity before Rafael Benitez's men prevailed 3-2 on penalties.
The Serie A giants went on to exact revenge two years later, edging Liverpool 2-1 to be crowned champions of Europe for a seventh time.
However, in extracts from his new autobiography titled 'I Think Therefore I Play', Pirlo said he had contemplated quitting in the wake of that loss in Istanbul.
"I thought about quitting because, after Istanbul, nothing made sense any more. The 2005 Champions League final simply suffocated me," the 34-year-old Juventus midfielder said.
"To most people's minds, the reason we lost on penalties was Jerzy Dudek – that jackass of a dancer who took the mickey out of us by swaying about on his line and then rubbed salt into the wound by saving our spot kicks.
"But in time the truly painful sentence was realising that we were entirely to blame.
"How it happened I don't know, but the fact remains that when the impossible becomes reality, somebody’s f***ed up – in this case, the entire team. A mass suicide where we all joined hands and jumped off the Bosphorus Bridge.
"I could hardly sleep and even when I did drop off, I awoke to a grim thought: I'm disgusting. I can't play anymore. I went to bed with Dudek and all his Liverpool team-mates."