Ashley Cole has admitted he considered a move away from Chelsea over the summer – but was persuaded to stay by Carlo Ancelotti.
Cole was heavily linked with a switch to Real Madrid, where he would have been reunited with Jose Mourinho, after a difficult period in his personal life.
The England defender concedes he thought about leaving England before holding talks with Ancelotti regarding his future.
And having made an impressive start to the season, the former Arsenal left-back believes he is learning to cope with the abuse of rival supporters and has no regrets about staying.
"It was hard for me in my head," he told ESPN. "It wasn’t just about the football, it was more my brain and it was getting too much for me.
"There were times when it was really hard. I did think about leaving but, of course, when I spoke to Ancelotti he made it clear he wanted me to stay and loved having me around, and the players didn’t want me to go.
"I’m glad I stayed. A lot of people were saying ‘you can’t leave’, ‘he’s basically giving up and he has to take the flak’.
"I’ve stayed now and I’ve taken the flak and hopefully I’m coming through it."
Cole, 29, now hopes to remain at Stamford Bridge for many more years and play his part in a successful era for Chelsea.
"I would love to end my career here," said the left-back, whose current Chelsea contract expires in 2013.
"I’d like to say I have four years left at the top, but I’m taking it year by year and seeing how the body is because I’m 29 but I feel like 35 or 40. It’s hard getting up in the mornings."
Cole has enjoyed working with the likes of Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Guus Hiddink since Mourinho left in 2007 but feels Ancelotti has found the perfect formula.
"’I enjoyed them and worked really hard under them and they were good guys," he said.
"But I don’t know what it is with Carlo. He seems to be one of the lads. He knows when to be serious, but he joins in at training and everyone enjoys having him around.
"When you have someone like that around you it makes you want to fight and win for him. He just brings out the best in the lot of us."