KEVIN DE BRUYNE played the entire Euro 2020 quarter-final with torn ankle ligaments in a major concern to Manchester City.
The Belgium superstar, 30, was a doubt heading into last night's crunch clash with Italy in Munich.
He raced back from a fractured eye socket to be fit for the tournament but then picked up an ankle problem in the round-of-16 win over Portugal.
However, Roberto Martinez selected his creative talisman from the outset to take on the Azzurri – with De Bruyne believing he had a 'responsibility' to play.
The two-time PFA Player of the Year said: "For me personally it has been four or five weird weeks. But I especially want to thank the medical staff.
"It was a miracle that I played today because there was definitely damage to my ankle. A tear in my ligaments.
"But I felt a responsibility to play for my country today. Too bad I couldn't do more."
De Bruyne struggled to have the impact he would have wanted to have as Italy ran out 2-1 winners and set up a semi-final date with Spain.
Nicolo Barella and Lorenzo Insigne fired Roberto Mancini's men into a 2-0 lead before Romelu Lukaku pulled one back for Belgium from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time.
De Bruyne added: "They had more possession and the ball didn't go in for us, which is a shame. Getting eliminated is always a disappointment.
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"It was a difficult tournament for us, we suffered many injuries. We fought until the end.
"Italy were better than us in the first half, but in the second we created more chances. We could have got it to 2-2 but we didn't.
"We lost against a top-notch team. We'll try to win next time, at the World Cup, but first I have to recover physically.
"I've had too many (injury) problems in the last few years but I've always tried to give everything for the team."
De Bruyne was not the only player to end the night in pain.
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Italy's exciting left-back Leonardo Spinazzola, one of the standout performers for the Azzurri in this tournament, was stretchered off after tearing his Achilles tendon in a devastating blow for him and the team.
One of Mancini's backroom coaching staff also required medical attention after appearing to sustain a facial injury in the dugout.
But on a lighter note, Ciro Immobile made a heroic recovery earlier on in the quarter-final clash.
He went down after slight contact with Jan Vertonghen in the Belgium penalty box and was rolling around in apparent agony.
That was until team-mate Nicolo Barella blasted in and Immobile jumped up to join in the celebrations.
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