FC CLACTON’S Jake Clowsley has spoken of the “injury hell” and “emotional rollercoaster” that made him contemplate hanging up his boots.

The attacking midfielder returned to the Seasiders last week and scored on his third debut for the club in Saturday’s 1-0 success at Long Melford.

However, it was a rare moment of happiness in what has been a torrid last six months for the 25-year-old, having started the season at Brightlingsea Regent.

First, he suffered a recurrence of a knee injury and then, having battled back to fitness, he was struck down by shin splints.

Clowsley admits it has affected him both mentally and physically and, at one point, he thought his playing days were over.

“I don’t mind admitting it’s really got me down,” he told the Gazette.

“I had such high hopes for this season after a really positive pre-season at Brightlingsea.

“I was playing well and in form.

“Then I suffered a recurrence of my old injury and it’s been a long road back since.

“I’ve been in major discomfort and had to have cortisone injections.

“When I did get myself fit again, I suffered shin splints and that put me back on the sidelines. It sent me spiralling downwards.

“I’d worked so hard to get fit and put so much effort in, only to suffer another setback.

“(Regent boss) Tom (Rothery) was very patient, helpful and supportive but it was a real kick in the teeth and everything took its toll, physically and mentally.

“To be honest, it reached a point where I didn’t even want to play football anymore and that’s really sad because I’ve never felt like that before.

“I’ve always been upbeat but I felt like my career was coming to an end.

“It’s been a massive emotional rollercoaster and I had a complete breakdown.

“It’s been hell, so draining, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

“I felt in such a rut, despite putting so much time and effort into getting fit, and that burden ground me down.

“There was also my work to consider.

“I run my own flooring company so need to be fit and mobile, but when I was injured I couldn’t work as much as I wanted and that brought financial stress and worry.

“I spoke to my mum and dad and said I might have to call it quits.

“The injuries had made me lose my excitement and enjoyment of football.

“But they told me to take a break and keep my options open, so that’s what I did.

“Then I got the call about going back to Clacton.”

Clowsley signed last week and was pitched straight into the starting line-up for Saturday’s Thurlow Nunn League premier division contest at Melford.

He grabbed what proved the winner early in the second half.

“I’m really happy to be back,” he said.

“I grabbed my opportunity with both hands and was over the moon with the goal – especially as it turned out to be a winner.

“Coming back was a no-brainer, to be honest, and it’s great to be playing again after my struggle to regain fitness.

“I need to be realistic and, at this stage of my career, given where I am physically, I need to be playing regularly and not sitting on the bench.

“Hopefully, all being well, I’ll get that opportunity at Clacton.

“I’ve been doing bits in the gym but it’s not the same as match-fitness and that’s what I need to keep working on.

“But I was pleasantly surprised by how I felt during the game on Saturday.

“My knee felt great and – touch wood – there haven’t been any niggles since.

“Now it’s a question of taking it game by game, week by week.”

Clowsley will link up with twin brother Lee at the Bowl and also knows manager Tom Austin and assistant boss Ade Webster well.

“Tommy’s absolutely superb and Ade helped me so much when I played under him at the Colne College,” he said.

“They’re both great and the club are lucky to have them.

“They’ve put the fire back in my belly.

“There’s a lot going on behind the scenes at the club and a good buzz among the players.

“If we get our heads down, graft and have each other’s backs, there’s no reason why we can’t finish in the top seven or eight.

“If we do that, we’ll start making a name for ourselves and teams will fear us.

“It’s just about finding that level of continuity.”

Clacton, who are 13th in the table, host Norwich United at the Bowl on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).