Murray Davidson accepted he was ready for retirement when he struggled to even climb the stairs in his house after training.

However, the St Johnstone hero admits he was not prepared for the emotional send-off he received in Sunday’s farewell match.

The 35-year-old has revealed he made the decision to hang up his boots four months ago but was determined to keep the news under wraps as Saints battled to avoid a relegation dogfight.

It meant his swan-song, after 14 successful years and 415 appearances for the club, was a rollercoaster of sentiments before he was a 90th-minute substitute in a 2-0 victory over - fittingly - Livingston, his first club.

Skipper Liam Gordon instantly presented Davidson with the captain’s armband and, with his name ringing out in song from the stands, the midfielder was afforded a guard of honour at full-time following a slow and deliberate walk around the McDiarmid Park pitch to say goodbye.

“When big Alex Mitchell went down with 10 minutes to go Macca [manager Steven MacLean] told me I was going on,” said Davidson. “My heart started to go because I am not sure I would have lasted 10 minutes!

“I have so many emotions. I woke up on Sunday and I am not a nervous person, and before European games and cup finals I have been fine, but on the day I felt it. A couple of times I had to go and take a minute because I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I had so many emotions and it was difficult but it was the right decision.

“I knew I couldn’t do this anymore. It was as black and white as that. I was putting my body on the line. The players were all saying I was training well but I told them, ‘yeah but you can’t see me in the house at night when I am struggling to walk down the stairs.

“That is just old age and down to putting my body on the line for years. I am no different to any other player, it gets more difficult as you get older. I was having to take things to get through training and I decided that was enough. I told them I couldn’t do it anymore. Mentally, I can’t keep struggling to get out of the bed - it was as simple as that.

“I had to walk down the stairs sideways. My ankle, knee and hip - it was just old age, it wasn’t an injury that I retired with. I trained for three weeks every day. I tried to cover it up in front of my girlfriend before she went to bed. Sometimes I was hopping to get to the kitchen or up the stairs because I couldn’t put weight down.

“I am proud that I have had the courage to make this decision because I could have kept playing, because I was training and back in match-day squads. But I felt if I was to go week-to-week that I was going to do myself more damage and there was a chance I could also be a negative on the team because I couldn’t get to the levels required to be a first-team player at St Johnstone.”

Davidson is undecided if he wants to remain in football or make a clean break from the game and take his career in a different direction. However, no matter what happens next, he is certain in his mind he has taken the right decision to stop playing now, with the memories of 14 years in the Premiership, European football and the club’s three cup triumphs to last a lifetime.

“I am so proud to have played in the [Premiership] and I wanted to go out at the top,” he added with the knowledge he will get one last hurrah after being granted a testimonial. “I don’t want people to be looking at Murray Davidson on a Saturday saying he is finished. It was the most difficult thing to do but at the same time it was the easiest because I knew I couldn’t get to the level I used to and it was frustrating. I know in my heart it is the right thing.”