Brendan Brooks admits he should have hung up his skates last year after two short stints with Sheffield Steelers and Manchester Storm this term.
The former GB international had a year with Braehead Clan until leaving last year, where he moved into retirement after not securing another year in Glasgow under Pete Russell.
But, with the benefit of hindsight, Brooks revealed he struggled for fitness and mentally, had lost the same approach he took to game previously.
“I had pretty much retired last summer after leaving Glasgow,” Brooks revealed. “My plan was to hopefully stay on there for another year when Pete came in and I thought it was a done deal.
“But things change and I started to get into the mindset of wondering about whether I wanted to go to a new team so I had pretty much finished and hadn’t trained the way I would have usually.
“I was kind of sitting around and I saw Sheffield had been struggling. My wife and I were talking and the question came up about going back for one more campaign.
“I made a call after that discussion to look into it and Sheffield came back to me straight away and wanted me to be part of it.
“But I was behind the eight-ball, with guys who had been there a couple of months and I hadn’t trained the way I would have. I had always been big on the training side of things.
“So to not do that left me behind and I think there was an expectation of me to come in and do what I did before in Glasgow. Mentally and physically, I just wasn’t at the level I needed to be.”
Brooks left Steelers after a handful of games and was snapped up by Ryan Finnerty, who he worked with at Braehead to join him at Manchester Storm.
Despite trying to convince himself he could still play and perform, the mental side of things proved too compelling as he had to admit defeat.
He added: “I had spurts when I went to Manchester, but I don’t think that arena was built for me. I just think when I left Sheffield, I was mentally done. I kept telling myself I could still do it, but I wasn’t fully convinced.
“I find myself amazed how much the mental side of things comes into it and I found I was having trouble getting up for games and I didn’t have the excitement for it any more. That wasn’t like me and it was definitely a sign.
“Manchester was struggling too and normally, I would have risen to the challenge, but it wasn’t happening for me this time. When you’re not up for it mentally, it’s tough to get away from.
“Winning gold with GB was the end and coming back was all about seeing whether it was still there for me, but to not train and be at the standard I should have been showed. I should have just retired the year before.”
Brooks arrived in the UK with the Clan in 2015 before heading to Fife Flyers for a season a year later. A good season led to a call-up to Great Britain, where he qualified to play through his mother, who hailed from Yorkshire.
A return to Glasgow under John Tripp followed and while the tea underperformed, Brooks shined that led to another GB stint, where he picked up his second gold medal.
Now, as GB get ready to take on some of the world’s best on Slovakia, Brooks can only look on enviously a year after helping them win promotion to the top flight.
He admits he’d still love to be part of the group as they prepare for what will be their biggest adventure on the international stage.
And while he says he’ll be rooting for them when they come up against Canada, USA and Germany among others, Brooks reckons results against the KHL sides, Dynamo Riga and Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod and can give them confidence and perhaps take away any fears they may have had.
“I still wish I was part of the group right now,” he said. “It was such a great experience over those two years and it looks like another good team that’s going to Slovakia.
“There’s no doubt it’s a tough test for Pete and the team and it will be a different experience from the last two years, but they might surprise a couple of teams and as we know, ice hockey can do that.
“I can’t help thinking they may need more than one win to stay in that division. Maybe a tie might see them over the line, but who knows how it’s going to pan out. They might get even two wins.
“They got a good result against Torpedo at the weekend and if you can show you’re playing and competing with a KHL team, you can go into the tournament with a level of belief.
“It gets the confidence going and maybe takes that little bit of fear away, showing you are capable of performing against a high quality team.
“I really hope they can stay in the top division and anything can happen. I’m certainly rooting for them. I wish I was there to be part of it and I wish Pete and the guys all the best.”