The doctor who treated Barcelona striker David Villa after he broke his leg during the 2011 Club World Cup in Japan says the player was lucky not to have the limb amputated.
Dr Ramon Cugat said the 30-year-old could have lost his leg due to the pressure changes which come into play 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," said Dr Cugat, adding that "Villa has [now] overcome his ordeal."
"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 added: "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."