Rio Ferdinand admits he was considering hanging up his boots before Harry Redknapp came calling this summer.
The QPR new boy says he would have retired had he not secured a move back to the capital after being shown the door by Manchester United at the end of the season.
However, Redknapp, who gave Ferdinand his professional debut at West Ham as a teenager, offered the 35-year-old the chance to prolong his career in the Premier League.
“If I hadn’t come to a club in London I probably would have retired, I’d have packed it in,” said Ferdinand, who snubbed a number of lucrative deals abroad to sign a 12-month contract with the Hoops.
“It was that important for me to be here at this stage in my life. I’m a London boy. We were desperate to come back to London as a family and when Harry called that was it, because our relationship goes back so far.
“Any player will tell you if a manager gives you your first chance, your first steps in football, there’s a place imprinted in your heart.
“That’s not an opportunity that too many people get in their lives. He gave me that and he was for ever supporting me when I got in the first-team."
He added: “I have an affinity with this club. I played here as a kid - when Chelsea were here. We used to batter them every week!
"It was actually the first one I joined as a kid, before Frank Lampard’s dad came and watched me play for my district and I went to West Ham."