After managing only 18 senior AFL games in 18 months, Bellchambers, along with 33 past and present Essendon players, was slapped with a one-year suspension from the game following his involvement in the Bombers’ 2012 supplements regime.
The 27-year-old had lost passion for the game and even told his manager he was going to quit, before eventually changing his mind and re-signing with the club until 2018.
“I rang my manager and told him I definitely wasn’t coming back,” Bellchambers told the Herald Sun.
“So I guess I got pretty close (to quitting).
“He was the one who told me not to make decisions when I’m emotional. So I’m here, but I was pretty close to pulling the pin (on football).”
Bellchambers said the first few months of the ban was the hardest for everyone involved.
“It was a bit of a struggle early on for me,” the 27-year-old admits.
“For the first couple of months, everyone was really emotional when it first happened. I had to really consider my options and whether I was going to come back and play football again or (retire).
“Having only playing 17 games in the previous two years, I’d almost lost the enjoyment and the fun out of football. Being in rehab and being injured, you don’t really enjoy yourself that much.
“I definitely wasn’t enjoying my football as much as I would have liked and as much as I did early on in my career. I had to make that decision early on.
“I was fairly emotional and the thoughts go through your head that ‘nah, that’s it, I’m done with football’. I had that pretty good advice never to make decisions when you’re emotional, so I took my time and made the decision.”
However, an overseas trip to Europe with teammates, particularly close friend Cale Hooker, helped the ruckman deal with the strain of missing the 2016 season.
“That’s probably another reason why it made it easier to come back to the football club.
“If I didn’t have Cale there, it would have been that I felt like I was on my own a lot more and to have him there and to help each other through the tough times definitely made it a lot easier.”
The players returned to the club for pre-season training last week, as they look to put the year from hell behind them and climb back up the ladder.