MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: Ahmed Saad of the Saints kicks the ball during the NAB Challenge AFL match between St Kilda Saints and Hawthorn Hawks at Etihad Stadium on March 19, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Former St Kilda player Ahmed Saad has told AFL.com.au what helped him get through the most difficult time in his career.

Saad received an 18-month ban in 2013 after testing positive to a banned substance that he says entered his system via a sports drink.

If anyone knows what the banned 34 past and present Essendon players are going through, it’s Ahmed Saad, and he has some advice for the young men who have had their lives turned upside down.

“I tried to focus on work, focus on getting into shape and just controlling what I could control,” Saad told AFL.com.au.

“It could be to get a job and work really hard on that so you set yourself up … and keep doing it after football.

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“I would not suggest training the whole 12 months because realistically you can’t be flat out for that long. For the last six months of the ban you can probably train pretty hard and get yourself cherry-ripe for next season.

In his time away from the game, Saad got married, went on a holiday and then worked at a stockbroking firm, before employing a personal trainer and setting himself a training program for the final six months of his doping ban, before returning to the Saints in 2015.