RETURNING St Johnstone midfielder Liam Craig admits he was two weeks from quitting full-time football.
After talks about a new deal with Hibs collapsed, Craig found himself facing a summer in limbo.
He was grateful to Peter Houston and James Fowler for providing training facilities at Falkirk and Queen of the South respectively and was in good shape when an injury crisis at former club St Johnstone tempted boss Tommy Wright to offer him a deal.
Craig said: “I was in advanced talks with Hibs in terms of staying there but when they said I could leave it was the start of a tough summer. As the summer went on and on I was getting more and more concerned.
“I was seriously having to think about going part-time and looking for a job outside the game. I talked it over with my wife Laura. We have two kids to think about.”
The 28-year-old contemplated an offer from Yorkshire-based Conference side Guiseley and also had interest from clubs in Romania and Saudi Arabia.
Some obscure and tempting offers came in from abroadLiam Craig
“I was close to giving up on full-time football. I was edging towards that decision.
“The money isn’t in the game. It’s a sign of the times.
“I set myself a deadline. I told my wife that I had two weeks to find a club or I would be looking for a job outside the game and going part-time. A week after I turned 16 I left for Ipswich so I had never given any thought about what I was cut out for apart from football. I’m only 28 so it was tough even contemplating the future.
“I know I have been lucky to be a full-time player for 12 years.
“The offer from Guiseley came up and the contract offer was tempting. It was a chance to get the foot in the door down south but I wanted to stay full-time.
“Some obscure and interesting offers came in from abroad. There was an offer from Saudi Arabia and that had the most money on the table. But I called Brian Rice, who I know from my Falkirk days and who was in Qatar until the switch to Inverness.
“He knows my missus and while he said the standard of football was good he didn’t think the lifestyle was for us and I trust advice from people like Brian.
“There was an offer from Romania, but that fell through. That one was appealing but I was back to square one. You see guys like Richie Brittain, Paul Lawson and Paul Burns going part-time.
“I was speaking to guys of a similar age to myself and it was hard enough getting somewhere to train never mind get a deal.”