Andrew Gee remembers sitting in hospital in 1991 listening to the doctor's words every young player would dread: ''you won't ever play again''.
He played more than 200 games for the Brisbane Broncos and 16 more State of Origins for Queensland after that fateful day.
It's just one reason why Broncos football operations manager Gee can empathise with winger Jharal Yow Yeh in the long and painful battle he's still facing to resurrect his career after an horrific leg injury.
An Australian Schoolboy in 1986, 21-year-old forward Gee had been hoping his maiden tour with the Kangaroos to Papua New Guinea would be the start of a long representative career.
Instead, he was invalided home with a severely damaged foot and told his career appeared over just when it was getting started.
Fortunately for Gee, Brisbane surgeon Terry Saxby had returned from America around the same time with a new technique, untried in Australia and which initially attracted little support from the local medical profession.
''Andrew's was a pretty bad injury and not one he was expected to come back from,'' Brisbane's foundation team doctor Peter Friis told AAP.
''Dr Saxby had a new procedure - it wasn't revolutionary but it was new and Gee was at the right place at the right time and it saved his career.''
Dr Friis said when Gee's X-rays were reviewed by doctors at the hospital the general consensus was: ''I don't think he'll play football again.''
For Gee, who had impressed Wayne Bennett enough to land a contract with the Broncos and a place in Queensland's Origin side a year later at the tender age of 20, the news was devastating.
His foot was so badly damaged it required numerous pins, screw and plates to put it back together.
''When the doctors told me I'd never play again, I was shattered,'' revealed Gee.
Now Dr Saxby is hoping his surgeon skills have given Yow Yeh the same chance as Gee two decades ago.
Yow Yeh hasn't been given the crushing career forecast Gee heard.
But the young winger has already been to hell and back since suffering a compound fracture of his lower leg playing against Souths in Perth in April.
If several skin grafts, fighting off infections and waiting six weeks to have surgery to insert a pin and nine screws wasn't traumatic enough, the 22-year-old Origin and Test star recently had to undergo another operation to re-align the bones in his damaged right leg.
The issue for Yow Yeh is whether the injury will rob him of some of the speed and athleticism that made him so exciting to watch.
Doctors told him he could be ready to return from his horrific leg injury early next season.
That was before the complication of his second bout of surgery earlier this month, but that's still a goal.
His recovery and return to the NRL will still require exceptional determination.
Gee, whose mental toughness got him through his ordeal 21 years ago, believes Yow Yeh has the mettle to again play the game he loves.
''Jharal is a born fighter,'' Gee said.
''He'll have some really tough days ahead ... some days where he'll question himself but in the end he'll get there because he's a young man who knows what he wants and is prepared to do whatever it takes to get it.''
Just as he was assured back in 1991, Gee has promised Yow Yeh he'll have everything he needs available to him to complete a successful return to the game.
''Our club has been built on looking after our players to the best of our ability,'' said Gee.
''Jharal knows that his future is secure.
''We will be riding the wave of emotions with him and his family every day.''
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