Injured Diarra considered quitting game

MADRID - Real Madrid midfielder and Mali captain Mahamadou Diarra almost decided to retire because of the serious knee injury that sidelined him in December but said he was back to full fitness and looking forward to the new season.

"When I had been working on my recovery for five or six months the team was experiencing difficulties and I was powerless," Diarra, 28, told the club's website ahead of Saturday's start to the season.

"But I was patient and I saw after seven months that my efforts were bearing fruit and that I was able to run with more intensity and do ball work," he added.

"So I realised that I had to pick myself up and stick with it to the end."