Kevin De Bruyne says hearing his damaged hamstring had the same consistency as ‘a wet paper towel’ fully endorsed the decision to undergo surgery last August.

The surgeon’s damning description brought home the magnitude of an injury that would have made playing a near impossibility for the Belgian.

Speaking in the superb new City Studios documentary, ‘Return of the King’, De Bruyne speaks of the frustration of coming off again in a Champions League final, his attempts to overcome the issue during the summer and the final set-back against Burnley that meant correcting the problem was the only option he had.

“Obviously it’s not nice to get injured in the final and more so because it was the second time that it happened to me,” said De Bruyne.

“In a way, I was proud of what I accomplished in the last few months of last season.

“People might give me stick for [coming off injured] in the final, but what else could I do?

“I did everything I needed to be doing for two months and maybe felt the best I had for seven or eight weeks and then in the final, the hamstring just pops and there’s nothing I can do about it.

“We won everything, and I played a big part into that, so I’m proud of what I did and the decision that I took.

“The whole summer I was working hard to prepare for the new season, but I wasn’t mentally ready, and I was tired.

“I was in a good place with my fitness - it’s not nice training by yourself, but there’s nothing much you can do.

“I came back in a good way, I was pretty fit, and everything seemed OK, and I started the game against Burnley pretty well, but I did a movement and popped my hamstring again.

“I was very frustrated and wanted to just go back inside because I’d done everything I could to be ready for the new season.

“I didn’t feel it was that bad and could walk but the next day, I couldn’t walk on it at all, and I knew I had a big problem because that had never happened before.”

After being examined by specialists, the decision to undergo surgery was taken and the long road to recovery could begin.

In the fly on the wall documentary, a post-op De Bruyne explains: “Basically, I’m a 32-year-old footballer who has been playing 15 years, made almost 700 appearances had a couple of hamstring injuries and the surgeon told me my hamstring was like a wet paper towel.

“The tendon was ruptured, they needed to clean it out and it was the best decision.”

It would be four months before our Assist King was back in the matchday squad, and though he knew he wouldn’t actually play against Sheffield United in late December, it was a chance to reunite with his adoring legion of City fans.

As he stepped on to the side of the pitch to warm up, the Etihad roared it’s appreciation and gave the Belgian a standing ovation that lasted several minutes – something that took him by surprise!

“I didn’t think it would be that loud or last that long,” he smiled.

“I didn’t know what to do, but I wasn’t going to run around waving my arms and say ‘hey guys’, but it was really nice and yeah… special.”