Robert Huth has revealed he feared further injury when heading the ball for Stoke City's opening goal in the 2-1 win against Reading on Saturday after his brave goal had helped the Potters end a winless run dating back to Boxing Day.
Huth, 28, received 28 stitches above his left eye after a clash of heads in the home draw with Wigan at the end of December and has continued to nurse the injury since.
"It's still sore," he said. "I didn't want to head it too much. But a week off now should do it good. Every corner in the first half came from our right, which meant I had to head with my left side. The first corner from the left-hand side was easier for me to head.
"I scored from that side (from Glenn Whelan's cross) and felt a bit more comfortable because swinging my head to the left would have been a bit sore.
"I hadn't done any heading since the Arsenal game until the warm-up. I caught one and thought: 'I hope I don't get too many on my head today'. But, as it turned out, we didn't have too many defensive headers to do and just one or two in the second half."
Huth said there was no thought of him not playing on after the injury, just some strange dressing-room curiosity when the stitches were going in.
"It was never in doubt that I would play," he said. "I didn't think it was that bad at the time. I had had an injury like this before and I felt a little bit concussed. But this time I thought: 'Oh, it's just bleeding'. But when I took the bandage off, I could see it was a bit deeper than the other one.
"It is in the back of your mind, but when a ball comes in there are 20 different ways to head the ball, even if it hits the top of your head. I'm glad we got through today, the three points is massive.
"I'm not saying I'm a real man. It affects some people but I was okay with it. Marc Wilson was very keen to be in the room when the doc stitched it up. He was very excited, like a little kid, filming it on his phone. He said: 'Rob, can I come in?' and I said: 'Go on then'."
Unusually, the German had not previously scored this season, although he is the second highest-scoring defender in Premier League history.
And he was relieved that Stoke once again kicked on with three points following a tough start to the year which saw them face the likes of Manchester City twice, as well as Chelsea and Arsenal.
"We have been a bit unfortunate and had some bad performances but, for the first 80 minutes here, we played really well," he said. "I think we thoroughly deserved to win it.
"Recently, we have had games where we have dominated the first half and not scored and then either lost or drawn. This looked like that as well but we started the second half the same way we finished the first.
"We looked in the driving seat and it was disappointing when they scored from a corner. After that, anything could have happened and they had a penalty shout. But I don't think Asmir (Begovic) had too much to do.
"Defenders scoring is a big thing for the team. For some reason, it hasn't hit off for us this season. Me and Ryan (Shawcross) have only got one each and it's not good enough. Usually, we have three, four and five, so hopefully we can chip in with a few more."
Huth has a firm admirer in manager Tony Pulis, who was relieved that one of his defensive kingpins had broken a long and frustrating drought.
"Robert has been the bedrock of everything we have done," the manager said. "Him and Ryan have formed a very, very good partnership. I'm amazed he hasn't scored more goals because he is very good off set-plays.
"It's something like six months he hasn't scored. Hopefully now he will go on a run and him and Ryan will provide us with more goals."