Barcelona striker David Villa came close to having the leg he broke at the 2011 Club World Cup amputated, a doctor says.
Dr Ramon Cugat said the 30-year-old could have lost his leg due to the pressure changes caused during airplane flights, as the star flew home to Spain shortly after suffering the injury.
"Big pressure changes like that at eight, 10 or 12 thousand metres take a big toll," Dr Cugat told La Sexta.
"They can lead to severe injuries, or even cause you to lose a limb."
The Catalan surgeon also praised Blaugrana coach Tito Vilanova for not rushing the former Valencia star back too quickly.
"There's been a craftsman who has masterminded the issue; Tito Vilanova, who has been easing him back in. He's been very smart," Dr Cugat said.
"David Villa is in better shape now than he was in the season before his injury," he continued.
Dr Cugat also spoke about the rehabilitation of Barca defender Gerard Pique.
"He has been through very intense treatment, because we wanted to make sure he would be the same old Pique when he makes his comeback," he said.